Colleen Cassady St. Clair
Assistant Professor, Behavioural Ecology

Mailing Address:
Department of Biological Sciences
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. T6G 2E9

Office: Z710 Biological Sciences Centre
Fax: (780) 492-9243
Phone: (780) 492-9685



Academic Degrees
Graduate Students
  • Conservation Biology
    (Biology 367)
  • Behavioural Ecology
    (Zoology 371)
  • Current Problems in Animal Behaviour
    (Zoology 472)

Current Research Interests: Movement Behaviour in Fragmented Habitats

In my recent work and in my future research program, I seek to integrate the topics, theory, and methodology of behavioural ecology with current and upcoming conservation issues by asking questions about how the behaviour of wild animals interacts with anthropogenic factors. Currently, I apply this link to studies of movement behaviour in fragmented habitats by focusing on the way animal movement is both impeded (i.e. barriers) and enhanced (i.e. wildlife corridors) to determine the functional connectivity of these landscapes.

By focusing our studies on the movement behaviour of animals living in fragmented habitats, we strive to contribute to the interface between the disciplines of Behavioural Ecology and Conservation Biology. Although habitat fragmentation is among the greatest threats to global biodiversity and is assumed to reduce the viability of populations by impeding the key processes of dispersal, colonization and gene flow, little is known about the processes by which animals actually move in these habitats. More specially, we are studying the way animals navigate in habitats that have been fragmented by human activities by focusing on (a) how animals react to and cross anthropogenic barriers like roads, (b) how animals find and use corridors of intact habitat within otherwise disturbed habitat, and (c) whether animals tailor specific activities (e.g. foraging) to particular areas in habitats that would not otherwise be expected to support them. My graduate students and I are addressing these questions in several contexts, which are described in more detail at the links to their names. With these studies, we hope to advance a general understanding of how animals move in fragmented habitats with utility to conservation biology theory as well as to managers and land use planners.

My past work focused on behavioural ecology in seabirds, primarily brood reduction in crested penguins. Although I am not currently researching seabird ecology, I remain interested in it.


In print

Bélisle, M. and C. C. St. Clair. 2001. Cumulative effects of barriers on the movement of forest birds. Conservation Ecology 5(2): 9. [URL:]

St. Clair, C. C., R. C. St. Clair, and T. D. Williams. 2001. Does kleptoparasitism by Glaucous-winged Gulls limit the reproductive success of Tufted Puffins? Auk 118(4): 934-943.

St. Clair, C. C., McLean, I. G., Murie, J. O., Phillipson, S. M., and Studholme, B. J. S. 1999. Fidelity to nest site and mate in Fiordland Crested Penguins. Marine Ornithology 27: 37-41.

Desrochers, A.,S. J. Hannon, M. Bélisle, and C. C. St. Clair. 1999. Movement of songbirds in fragmented forests: Can we "scale up" from behaviour to explain occupancy patterns in the landscape? In: Adams, N. & Slotow, R. (Eds), Proc. 22 Int. Ornithol. Congr. Durban, Pp. 2447-2464. Johannesburg: BirdLife South Africa.

St. Clair, C. C., M. Bélisle, A. Desrochers, and S. J. Hannon. 1998. Winter responses of forest birds to habitat corridors and gaps. Conservation Ecology. []

St. Clair, C. C. 1998. What is the function of first eggs in crested penguins? Auk 115: 478-482.

St. Clair, C. C. and St. Clair, R. C. 1996. Causes and consequences of egg loss in rockhopper penguins, Eudyptes chrysocome. Oikos 77: 459-466.

St. Clair, C. C. 1996. Multiple mechanisms of reversed hatching asynchrony in rockhopper penguins. Journal of Animal Ecology 65: 485-494.

St. Clair, C. C., Waas, J. R., St. Clair, R. C., and Boag, P. T. 1995. Unfit Mothers? Maternal infanticide in royal penguins. Animal Behaviour 50: 1177-1185.

St. Clair, C. C. 1992. Incubation behavior, brood patch formation and obligate brood reduction in Fiordland crested penguins. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 31: 409-416.

St. Clair, C. C. and St. Clair, R. C. 1992. Weka predation on eggs and chicks of Fiordland crested penguins. Notornis 39: 60-63.

St. Clair, C. C. and St. Clair, R. C. 1990. Evidence of sealers on Open Bay Islands, South Westland. Archaeology in New Zealand 33: 100-103.

In press

Ronconi, R. A. and C. C. St. Clair. Management options to reduce boat disturbance on black guillemot (Cepphus grylle) foraging activity and colony attendance. Biological Conservation.


St. Clair, C. C. Comparative permeability of roads, rivers, and meadows to songbirds in Banff National Park. Conservation Biology.

Last updated: September 21, 2001