Participating Faculty

Heather Watts

Heather E. Watts

Department:School of Biological Sciences, WSU
Credentials:2007 - Ph.D., Michigan State University
Office:Heald 113
Mailing Address:School of Biological Sciences
PO Box 644236
Pullman, WA 99164-4236
Website:Click here

Research Interests

Environmental influences on life history patterns

Research Summary


A central focus of my research program is in understanding how environmental factors shape life history patterns, particularly reproduction. My past research has included work with mammals and has included research aimed at understanding how social and ecological variation influence patterns of survival and reproduction in spotted hyenas. However, my research now focuses on using songbirds as a model to study how animals time events in their annual cycles. Reproduction and migration are important events in the annual cycle of many animals, and a major area of emphasis in my research is on understanding how birds time these events. This work examines the role of environmental cues (e.g., photoperiod, food availability, social cues) in reproductive and migratory timing, as well as the endocrine and neuroendocrine mechanisms by which environmental cues are transduced to influence behavior and physiology.

Research Publications

Watts, H.E., Cornelius, J.M., Fudickar, A.M., Pérez, J. & Ramenofsky, M. 2018. Understanding variation in migratory movements: A mechanistic approach. General and Comparative Endocrinology 256: 112-122.

Squire, M. E., Veglia, M. K., Drucker, K. A., Brazeal, K., Hahn, T. P. & Watts, H. E. 2017. Estrogen levels influence medullary bone quantity and density in female house finches and pine siskins. General and Comparative Endocrinology 246: 249-257. 

Watts, H. E., Robart, A. R.**, Chopra, J. K.*, Asinas, C. E.*, Hahn, T. P., Ramenofsky, M. 2017. Seasonal expression of migratory behavior in a facultative migrant, the pine siskin. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 71: 9. 

Watts, H. E. Edley, B.* & Hahn, T. P. 2016. A potential mate influences reproductive development in female, but not male, pine siskins. Hormones and Behavior. 80: 39-46. 

Watts, H. E., MacDougall-Shackleton, S. A., & Hahn, T. P. 2015. Variation among individuals in photoperiod responses: Effects of breeding schedule, photoperiod, and age-related photoperiodic experience in birds. Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological Genetics and Physiology. 323: 368-374. 

MacDougall-Shackleton, S. A., Watts, H. E. & Hahn, T. P. 2015. Biological Timekeeping: Individual Variation, Performance, and Fitness. In: Integrative Organismal Biology (L. B. Martin, C. Ghalambor & H. A. Woods, Eds.). John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Washington State University