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Hoover, Jeff

Avian Ecologist

Address and Contact Information

Room 2018 Forbes Natural History Building
1816 S. Oak St.
M/C 652
Champaign, IL  61820


Dr. Jeff Hoover received his B.S. in Wildlife Management from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point in 1989. He received his M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Pennsylvania State University in 1992, where he studied the effects of forest fragmentation on the nesting success of wood thrushes. He recieved his Ph.D. in Animal Biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2001, where he studied the effects of nest predation and brood (i.e., cowbird) parasitism on demographic parameters and behavior in prothonotary warblers. He has been an Avian Ecologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey at the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois since 2001, where he continues to study interactions between brood parasites and hosts, the effects of forest management on eastern wild turkeys and breeding forest birds in general, and links between habitat restoration and bird conservation.


Research Biography

Research Interests

My research philosophy is as integrative as the field of ecology itself. I conduct both basic and applied research. I address research questions and test hypotheses both with field experiments and with correlational studies. Within the broad field of ecology, I study behavioral ecology, population dynamics, ecological factors affecting diversity and community composition, variation in life-history traits, and the effects of ecosystem restoration on biotic communities. My research spans hierarchical levels of biological organization including individuals, populations, communities, and ecosystems. It is important to me that my research leads to scientific discovery, furthers the field of ecology, and is relevant to conservation.

For the past 30 years, I have studied the ecology of birds (particularly migratory songbirds) in primarily forest and some grassland ecoystems of the midwestern and eastern U.S. I have conducted rigorous experimental and correlational field studies to address ecological questions and conservation issues. A primary focus of my research is determining how landscape composition affects selective ecological forces such as nest predation and brood parasitism in breeding birds. I examine how these forces directly influence community structure, population dynamics, and breeding decisions in birds and apply the results of my research to ongoing ecosystem restoration projects.

Focal species are an integral part of my research program. For example, I conducted a long-term (20-year) study of breeding populations of Prothonotary Warblers (a migratory species that is a forested wetland specialist) in southern Illinois. This research has yielded information from >6,000 individually marked adults, >12,000 nesting attempts, >15,000 offspring produced and represents one of the most detailed and extensive data sets ever recorded for a migratory passerine. Innovative field experiments with this species led to the discovery that the between-year breeding-site fidelity of adults is driven by experience-based decision rules (based on their own reproductive success). This study system has supported many new research directions and collaborations which include, modeling the evolution of host defenses against brood parasitism, determining factors affecting extra-pair paternity (EPP), and linking EPP to the subsequent breeding decisions of individuals.

I have additional research interests that include studying how the de-fragmenting for forests affects nest predation and cowbird parasitism of forest-dwelling birds, the effects of hydrologic restoration on bird communities in bottomland forests, and the effects of forest management (e.g., prescribed fire and tree thinning) on habitat use in eastern wild turkeys and on the relative abundances of breeding forest birds.

Current Projects

My research program developes, plans and conducts field-oriented research on the ecology/conservation of birds, with applications to conservation and management issues in Illinois. The two ongoing research projects I currently oversee, with graduate students and field technicians running them, include the Forest and Woodlands Campaign of the Illinois Wildlife Action Plan (effects of forest management on the abundance and diversity of breeding forest birds), and a second project entitled The Effects of Forest Management on Wild Turkey Habitat Use.

Selected Publications

Hoover, J. P., and W. M. Schelsky. 2020. Warmer April temperatures on breeding grounds promote earlier nesting in a long-distance migratory bird, the prothonotary warbler. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 8:580725.

Antonson, N. D., M. E. Hauber, B. Mommer, J. P. Hoover, and W. M. Schelsky. 2020. Physiological responses of host parents to rearing an avian brood parasite: an experimental study. Hormones and Behavior 125:104812.

Louder, M. I. M., W. M. Shelsky, J. P. Hoover, A. N. A. Louder, and M. E. Hauber. 2020. A seasonal shift in offspring sex ratio of the brood parasitic Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater). Journal of Avian Biology 51:000-000.

Parker, C. M., M. T. Meador, and J. P. Hoover. 2020. Using digital image analysis to quantify small arthropod vectors. Journal of Medical Entomology 57:1671-1674.

Hoover, J. P., N. M. Davros, W. M. Schelsky, and J. D. Brawn. 2020. Local neighbor density does not influence reproductive output in a secondary cavity-nesting songbird. The Auk: Ornithological Advances 137:1-15.

Louder, M. I. M., M. E. Hauber, A. N. A. Louder, J. P. Hoover, and W. M. Schelsky. 2019. Greater opportunities for sexual selection in male than in female obligate brood parasitic birds. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 32:1310-1315.

Louder, M. I. M., Schelsky, W. M., Albores, A. N., and J. P. Hoover, 2015. A generalist brood parasite modifies use of a host in response to reproductive success. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 282:20151615.

Louder, M. I. M., Ward, M. P., Schelsky, W. M., Hauber, M. E., and J. P. Hoover, 2015. Out on their own: a test of adult-assisted dispersal for fledgling brood parasites reveals solitary departures from hosts. Animal Behavior 110:29-37.

McKim-Louder, M. I., W. M. Schelsky. T. J. Benson, and J. P. Hoover, 2015. Brown-headed cowbirds exploit a host’s compensatory behavioral response to fecundity reduction. Behavioral Ecology 26(1):255-261. https://doi:10.1093/beheco/aru187.

McKim-Louder, M. I., J. P. Hoover, T. J. Benson, and W. M. Schelsky. 2013. Juvenile survival in a Neotropical migratory songbird is lower than expected. PLoS ONE 8(2): e56059. https://doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056059.

Hoover, J. P. 2009. Effects of hydrologic restoration on birds breeding in forested wetlands. Wetlands 29:563-573.

Hoover, J. P., and M. E. Hauber. 2007. Individual patterns of habitat and nest-site use by hosts promote transgenerational transmission of avian brood parasitism status. Journal of Animal Ecology 76:1208-1214.

Hoover, J. P., and S. K. Robinson. 2007. Retaliatory mafia behavior by a parasitic cowbird favors host acceptance of parasitic eggs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 104:4479-4483.

Hoover, J. P., and M. J. Reetz. 2006. Brood parasitism increases provisioning rate, and reduces offspring recruitment and adult return rates, in a cowbird host. Oecologia 149:165-173.

Hoover, J. P., K. Yasukawa, and M. E. Hauber. 2006. Spatially and temporally structured avian brood parasitism affects the fitness benefits of hosts. Animal Behaviour 72:881-890.

Hoover, J. P., T. H. Tear, and M. Baltz. 2006. Edge effects reduce the nesting success of Acadian Flycatchers in a moderately fragmented forest. Journal of Field Ornithology 77:425-436.

Hoover, J. P. 2006. Water depth influences rates of nest predation for a wetland-dependent bird, the Prothonotary Warbler. Biological Conservation 127:37-45.

Hoover, J. P. 2003. Decision rules for site fidelity in a migratory bird, the prothonotary warbler. Ecology 84:416-430. 

Hoover, J. P. 2003. Multiple effects of brood parasitism reduce the reproductive success of prothonotary warblers, Protonotaria citrea. Animal Behaviour 65:923-934.

Hoover, J. P. 2003. Experiments and observations of prothonotary warblers indicate a lack of adaptive responses to brood parasitism. Animal Behaviour 65:935-944.


PhD, Animal Biology, University of Illinois, 2001

MS, Wildlife & Fisheries Science, Pennsylvania State University, 1992

BS, Wildife Management, University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, 1989

LDAP Details for Hoover, Jeff