Steve Rothstein

Research Professor
(805) 893-2834
1112 Noble Hall


My major interests are in behavior, ecology, evolution and ornithology. Of these disciplines, I regard evolution as most important and consider behavioral problems mainly in the context of ecology and evolution. Hence my approach is largely that of behavioral ecology. Specific areas that concern me are animal sociality, reproductive biology, species interactions such as competition, the evolution of adaptations, and systematics. My present research is limited to birds and I am currently working on the coevolutionary interactions between parasitic birds and their hosts, egg recognition behavior in birds, social behavior and the determinants of dominance (especially status signaling in White-crowned Sparrows), the breeding biology of icterids, and the significance and origin of dialectal and individual variation in cowbird vocalizations. I also have some involvement in conservation programs dealing with endangered species that are threatened by cowbird parasitism. Recent publications that are indicative of my interests are cited in the list below.

I prefer that my graduate students choose thesis projects that are somewhat related to my own research interests since it is in such areas that I can provide the greatest help. Although I like to see my students develop their projects mostly on their own, I try to give them frequent and extensive feedback. This is done via weekly lab meetings during which all members of my group discuss their research or recently published papers and via frequent one-on-one discussion.

Selected Publications

  • in press John Faaborg , Douglas H. Johnson, Nils Warnock, Keith Bildstein, Keith Hobson, Frank Thompson III, Angela Anders, Sidney Gauthreaux, Patricia Heglund, Richard T. Holmes, Steven Latta, Katie Dugger, Douglas Levey, T. Scott Sillett, Stephen I. Rothstein, Erica Nol, Peter Marra, and Tom Sherry. New World Migratory Birds: Recent Advances in Science and Conservation. Ecological Applications: in press.
  • 2007 Peer, B.D., S.I. Rothstein, K.S. Delaney and R.C. Fleischer. Defence behaviour against brood parasitism is deeply rooted in mainland and island scrub-jays. Anim. Behav. 73:55-63
  • 2005 Peer, B.D, S.I. Rothstein, and J.W. Rivers. First record of Bronzed Cowbird parasitism on the Great-tailed Grackle. Wilson Bulletin 117:194-196.
  • 2005 Peer, B.D., S.I. Rothstein, M. J. Kuehn and R.C. Fleischer. Host defenses against cowbird parasitism: implications for cowbird management. Ornithological Monographs No. 57: 84-97.
  • 2005 Rothstein, S.I., and B.D. Peer. Conservation solutions for threatened and endangered cowbird hosts: sorting fact and fiction. Ornithological Monographs No. 57: 98-114.
  • 2005 Anderson, K.E., S.I. Rothstein, R.C. Fleischer and A.L. O'Loghlen. Large-scale movement patterns between song dialects in Brown-headed Cowbirds (Molothrus ater). Auk 122: 803-818.
  • 2005 Rothstein, S.I. More Than Kin and Less Than Kind: The Evolution of Family Conflict. [Book Review]. Anim. Behav. 69: 1223-1225. 11
  • 2005 Hosoi, S.A., S.I. Rothstein and A.L. O'Loghlen. Sexual preferences of female Brownheaded Cowbirds (Molothrus ater) for perched song repertoires. Auk 122:82-93.
  • 2004 O'Loghlen, A. and S.I. Rothstein. Divergent sexual responses to different categories of foreign courtship songs in female Brown-headed Cowbirds (Molothrus ater). Auk 121:824-836.
  • 2004 Rothstein, S.I. Brown-headed Cowbird: Villain or scapegoat? Birding 36: 372-384.