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Dr. Marilyn Ramenofsky

Picture of Marilyn

Position Title
Retired Adjunct Professor




1982 PhD Zoology University of Washington, Seattle
1972 MS Zoology University of Texas, Austin
1969 BA Botany-Biology Pomona College

Research Contribution

I am fascinated by the interplay of environmental signals and the physiological and behavioral expressions of organisms and primarily those of migratory birds. As migration is the movement to and away from areas where species breed, each trip is composed of multiple steps or substages that involve regulation of the neuroendocrine, endocrine, metabolic, and behavioral systems. During these trips, organisms are exposed to a wide range environmental conditions that include photoperiod, atmospheric and climatic, food availability, predation and unpredictable pertubations. Thus, in order for migrants to be successful they rely on environmental information to cue progression of each substage. Migrants therefore can serve as an effective model for studying how organisms rely on environmental conditions and respond to environmental changes and in particular global climate fluctuations. Former studies have focused on the effects of photoperiod, lunar condition, food availability and stressors on migratory specific characteristics that include migratory behavior (migratory restlessness, feeding, locomotor activity) and measures of the endocrine and metabolic systems. My other studies include vocal communication of nocturnal migrants, role of experience and geomagnetic field on orientation during migration, endogenous rhythms and migratory behavior, effects of prolonged migratory restlessness on the endocrine and metabolic systems. Most recently my laboratory has used the migrant/resident model present in the Pacific White-crowned Sparrows subspecies (Zonotrichia leucophrys) to compare the physiological and behavioral traits attributed to the migratory life history and assess whether these features are present in residents and may be considered more in seasonal terms rather then strictly migratory.


Howard Hughes Award for development of Ingraham High School Urban Ecology Project, 2002
NSF Travel Award to attend 19th Int’l Ethology Conference, Tolouse, France, 1985
Office of the Dean, University of Washington, 1998.
Office of the Dean, University of Washington, 2001.
University of Washington Travel Award, 24th Int'l Ethological Congress, Honolulu, Hawaii, 1995
National Science Foundation Grant from the Division of Psychobiology, "Environmental stress, aggression, corticosterone, and metabolism in birds", 1984- 1986
Obesity Core Center Feasibility Grant, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, "Hormonal regulation of migratory obesity", 1985-1986.
National Science Foundation Grant from the Division of IOS, “Physiological mechanisms of migratory traits”, 2009-2011
National Science Foundation Grant from the Division of ARC, “Physiological mechanisms of migratory traits”, 2012 - 2017..
"Thinkers in Residence Fellowship" Deakin University, Waurn Ponds, Vic, Australia, July - Dec, 2015

Department and Center Affiliations

Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior


Board of Directors of Cooper Ornithological Society.
Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) - Chair of Division of Animal Behavior; Comparative Endocrinology, Committee of the International Ornithologists Union,
Animal Behavior Society
Ornithological Societies of North America

CBS Grad Group Affiliations

Animal Behavior

Specialties / Focus

Animal Behavior
  • Physiology and Behavior

Graduate Groups not Housed in CBS

Animal Biology Graduate Group


Ramenofsky Lab
  • Zoltan Nemeth (Postdoctoral Fellow, 2010-2014), Simeon Lisovski (Postdoctoral Fellow, 2016-2017), Jonathan Perez (Graduate Student, 2010-2017)

Field Sites

UC Davis Field House
West Putah Creek
Audubon Farm
Bodega Marine Laboratories Reserve
University of Alaska Fairbanks website
Toolik Lake Field Station, Institue of Arctic Biology, UAF website

Teaching Interests

Animal migrations, Comparative Vertebrate Reproduction


Physiology NPB 139 Frontiers in Physiology (Winter 2011)
Seminar PHE 198 History of the Olympics (Spring Quarter)