Linda A. Whittingham
Linda A. Whittingham
Behavioral Ecology

B.S., University of Michigan 1983
M.S., University of Michigan 1988
Ph.D., Queen's University 1992

Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Oslo, Norway 1992-93
Australian National University 1993-94
Louisiana State University 1994-96

Office: Lapham S499
Phone: 414-229-2252
FAX: 414-229-3926
Personal Homepage:

Research Interests

My research investigates how paternity, ecological factors and evolutionary history influence parental investment patterns and mating systems in birds. Birds provide an excellent opportunity to study parental investment theory, because in most species both males and female provide extensive parental care. Furthermore, many recent studies of birds have shown that females often have young sired by males on other territories (i.e. extra-pair young). This extra-pair mating produces a genetic mating system that is very different from the observed social mating system. Paternity (the proportion of young in the brood sired by the resident male) is expected to influence male parental behavior because selection is expected to favor males that do not provide care to unrelated young. However, predicting how the level of male parental investment will vary in relation to paternity is complicated. Several ecological factors (e.g. food abundance, density and breeding synchrony) may influence levels of paternity as well as the importance of male parental care to offspring survival. I use field experiments and molecular techniques (i.e. DNA fingerprinting and microsatellites) to examine the relationship between paternity and male parental investment in birds.

I am also interested in the evolution of behavioral and life history traits. Currently, I am investigating the relative influence of phylogeny (i.e. evolutionary history) and ecology on the evolution of different forms of male parental care (e.g. incubating eggs or nestlings, feeding nestlings or fledglings) in the swallows (Hirundinidae). I am using DNA sequences from mitochondrial genes to estimate the swallow phylogeny which will be used to examine evolutionary patterns of the different forms of male parental investment in relation to ecological changes such as nest structure.

Selected Publications

Garvin. J.C., P.O. Dunn, L.A. Whittingham, D.A. Steeber and D. Hasselquist. 2008. Do male ornaments signal immunity in the common yellowthroat? Behavioral Ecology 19: 54-60.

Dunn, P.O., L.A. Whittingham and C. R. Freeman-Gallant. 2008. Geographic variation in the function of ornaments in the common yellowthroat. Journal of Avian Biology 39: 66-72.

Dale, J., P.O. Dunn, J. Figuerola, T. Lislevand, T. Székely, L.A. Whittingham. 2007. Sexual selection explains Rensch’s rule of allometry for sexual size dimorphism. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 274: 2971-2979.

Mitchell, D.P., P.O. Dunn, L.A. Whittingham and C. Freeman-Gallant. 2007. Attractive males provide less parental care in the common yellowthroat. Animal Behaviour 73: 165-170.

Garvin, J.C., B. Abroe, M.C. Pedersen, P.O. Dunn and L. A. Whittingham. 2006. Immune response of nestling warblers varies with extra-pair paternity and temperature. Molecular Ecology 15: 3833-3840.

Whittingham, L.A., P.O. Dunn and M.K. Stapleton. 2006. Repeatability of extra-pair mating in tree swallows. Molecular Ecology 15: 841-849.

Pedersen, M.C., P.O. Dunn and L.A. Whittingham. 2006. Extra-territorial forays are related to a male ornamental trait in the common yellowthroat. Animal Behaviour 72: 479-486.

Whittingham, L.A., P.O. Dunn and J.K. Nooker. 2005. Maternal influences on brood sex ratios: An experimental study in tree swallows. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 272: 1775-1780.

Tarof, S.A., P.O. Dunn and L.A. Whittingham. 2005. The role of melanin- and carotenoid-based ornaments in male-male competition and female choice in the common yellowthroat. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 272: 1121-1127.

Pitcher, T., P.O. Dunn and L.A. Whittingham. 2005. Sperm competition and the evolution of testes size in birds. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 18: 557-567.

Sheldon, F.H., L.A. Whittingham, R.G. Moyle, B. Slikas and D.W. Winkler. 2005. Phylogeny of Swallows (Aves: Hirundinidae) estimated from nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 35: 254-270.

Whittingham L.A. and P.O. Dunn. 2005. Effects of extra-pair and within-pair reproductive success on the opportunity for selection in birds. Behavioral Ecology 16: 138-144.

Poirier, N.E., L.A. Whittingham and P.O. Dunn. 2004. Males achieve greater reproductive success through multiple broods than through extra-pair mating in house wrens. Animal Behaviour 67: 1109-1116.

Whittingham, L.A., Dunn, P.O. and E.D. Clotfelter. 2003. Parental allocation of food to nestling tree swallows: the influence of nestling behavior, sex, and paternity. Animal Behaviour 65: 1203-1210.

Badyaev A.V., M.L. Beck, G.E. Hill, L.A. Whittingham. 2003. The evolution of sexual size dimorphism in the house finch: V. Maternal effects. Evolution 57: 384-396.

Badyaev, A.V, G.E. Hill, M.L. Beck, A.A. Dervan, R.A. Duckworth, K.J. McGraw, P. M. Nolan, and L.A. Whittingham. 2002. Sex-biased hatching order and adaptive population divergence in a passerine bird. Science 295: 316-318.

Whittingham, L.A. and H. Schwabl. 2001. Maternal testosterone in tree swallow eggs varies with female aggression. Animal Behaviour 63: 63-67.

Thusius, K.J., K.A. Peterson, P.O. Dunn and L.A. Whittingham. 2001. Sexual selection through within-pair and extra-pair mate choice in the common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas). Animal Behaviour 62: 435-446.

Whittingham, L.A. and P.O. Dunn. 2001. Male parental care and paternity in birds. Current Ornithology 16: 257-298.