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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Cornell University Cornell University Cornell University Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

John Fitzpatrick


Hylodes phyllodes, a stream-breeding frog from Atlantic Coastal Forest of Brazil


Biology of Fishes class collecting at Oneida Lake


An Acacia tree backlit by the African sunset


Pisaster ochraceus in the intertidal


Common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca, growing in Ithaca

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Fitzpatrick, John

Louis Agassiz Fuertes Director, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

phone: 607-254-2449
room: 159 Sapsucker Woods Road



M.A. 1974, Harvard University

Ph.D. 1978, Princeton University

Graduate Fields:

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


birds, conservation biology, endangered species management, citizen science

Research Focus

I mainly work on the ecology, conservation biology, landscape genetics, and regional land management of endangered species, with emphasis on the cooperative-breeding Florida Scrub-Jay. This is Florida's only endemic bird, and is restricted to widely scattered patches of fire-maintained oak scrub. I remain closely involved in an intensive, long-term demographic study (42 years and counting) of the color-marked jay population at the Archbold Biological Station. In earlier decades of this study, our emphasis was on how demographic constraints resulted in the evolution of cooperative-breeding. While we continue to work on aspects of social behavior, more recent focuses include: evolution of dispersal behavior; demographic and territorial dynamics of specialization on post-fire successional habitat; epizootic disease as an agent of population control and selection; genetic population structure from local to range-wide scales, and the implications for preserve design and conservation management; recovery planning, in concert with public agencies and private landowners; the genetic bases of fitness using long-term pedigree data and next generation genomic sequencing analyses.

At the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, I also am involved in developing internet-based projects for citizen engagement in monitoring bird populations around the world, and using these data to draw attention to regional and global conservation priorities.

Recent Courses Taught

  • BioEE 2670 Introduction to Conservation Biology (Fall)

Selected Publications

Townsend, A. K., R. Bowman, J. W. Fitzpatrick, M. Dent, and I. J. Lovette. 2011. Genetic monogamy across variable demographic landscapes in cooperatively breeding Florida scrub-jays.  Behavioral Ecology 22:464-470.

Davison, M. A. and J. W. Fitzpatrick. 2010. Role of human-modified habitat in protecting specialist species: A case study in the threatened Florida Scrub-Jay.  Biological Conservation 143:2815-2822.

Coulon, A., J. W. Fitzpatrick, R. Bowman, and I. J. Lovette. 2010. Effective dispersal decreases with increased habitat fragmentation in the Florida Scrub-Jay.  Conservation Biology 24:1080-1088.

Fitzpatrick, J. W. 2010. Subspecies are for convenience.  Ornithol. Monogr. 67:54-61.

Coulon, A., J. W. Fitzpatrick, R. Bowman, B. M. Stith, C. A. Makarewich, L. M. Stenzler, and I. J. Lovette. 2008. Congruent population structure inferred from dispersal behaviour and intensive genetic surveys of the threatened Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens).  Molecular Ecology 17:1685-1701.

Walker, B., D. F. Stotz, T. Pequeno, and J. W. Fitzpatrick. 2006. Birds of the Manu Biosphere Reserve.  In: Mammals and Birds of the Manu Biosphere Reserve, Peru. Patterson, B. D., D. F. Stotz, and S. Solari (eds.). Pp. 23-49.  Fieldiana: Zoology, New Series, No. 110.

Fox, G. A., B. E. Kendall, J. W. Fitzpatrick, and G. E. Woolfenden. 2006. Consequences of heterogeneity in survival probability in a population of Florida Scrub-Jays.  Journal of Animal Ecology 75:921-927.

Fitzpatrick, J. W., M. Lammertink, M. D. Luneau, Jr., T. W. Gallagher, B. R. Harrison, G. M. Sparling, K. V. Rosenberg, R. W. Rohrbaugh, E. C. H. Swarthout, P. H. Remsen, Jr., S. D. Sion, and D. Zollner. 2005. Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis) persists in continental North America.  Science 308:1460-1462.