Benjamin Van Doren

Benjamin Van Doren


Name: Benjamin Van Doren
Position: DPhil Student


Short Biography:

In 2016, I graduated Summa Cum Laude from Cornell University with degrees in Biological Sciences and Biometry & Statistics. My concentrations were in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Statistical Genomics.

I began to study bird migration in 2009, and in 2012 I placed fifth at the Intel Science Talent Search with a research project examining migration in the northeast United States. I continued this work at Cornell with the BirdCast project ( We use remote sensing tools such as Doppler weather radar to understand migration over the United States, and we continue to publish weekly migration forecasts and analyses during the migration season. In 2015, I became interested in genomics and completed a senior thesis on genome-wide patterns of differentiation in stonechats (genus Saxicola), working in the lab of Professor Irby Lovette ( I have also conducted research in Amazonian Ecuador, remote eastern Panama, coastal Maine, northern Michigan, and northern Germany. After leaving Cornell, I came to Oxford on a Marshall Scholarship. My personal website is

Research Activities:

During my DPhil, my primary focus will be on the evolution and plasticity of avian migration. Specifically, I am interested in how birds adjust their migratory behavior in response to both short- and long-term environmental changes, and the relative contributions of individual plasticity and “hard-coded” evolutionary changes in these responses. I am also interested in how modifications in migratory behavior arise and propagate in a population, and how migration can influence diversification. I plan to use Blackcaps (Sylvia atricapilla) as a system to study some of these questions.

Selected Publications:

Van Doren BM, Horton KG, Stepanian PM, Mizrahi DS, Farnsworth A. 2016. Wind drift explains the reoriented morning flights of songbirds. Behavioral Ecology. 27:1122-1131. doi: 10.1093/beheco/arw021.

Dzielski SA, Van Doren BM, Hruska JP, Hite JM. 2016. Reproductive biology of the Sapayoa (Sapayoa aenigma), the ‘Old World suboscine’ of the New World. The Auk: Ornithological Advances. 133:347-363. doi: 10.1642/AUK-16-5.1.

Horton KG, Van Doren BM, Stepanian PM, Hochachka WM, Farnsworth A, Kelly JF. 2016. Nocturnally migrating songbirds drift when they can and compensate when they must. Scientific Reports. 6:21249. doi: 10.1038/srep21249.

Farnsworth A, Van Doren BM, Hochachka WM, Sheldon D, Winner K, Irvine J, Geevarghese J, Kelling S. 2015. A characterization of autumn nocturnal migration detected by weather surveillance radars in the northeastern US. Ecological Applications. doi: 10.1890/15-0023.

Van Doren BM, Sheldon D, Geevarghese J, Hochachka WM, Farnsworth A. 2015. Autumn morning flights of migrant songbirds in the northeastern United States are linked to nocturnal migration and winds aloft. The Auk: Ornithological Advances. 132:105-118. doi: 10.1642/AUK-13-260.1.

Complete list at