Elena H. West

PhD Student
(co-advised with Dr. William Karasov)


I am studying the habitat use, foraging ecology, and diet of Steller’s jays at multiple spatial scales in California old-growth forests. Like many corvid species, Steller’s jays have undergone rapid population growth in recent years, particularly in areas dominated by humans, where food subsidies are abundant. Expanding corvid populations in California old-growth forests are widely believed to be the greatest threat to the viability of Marbled Murrelets, an endangered seabird, and potentially many other nesting songbirds. Understanding the spatial scale at which human food subsidies influence the habitat use, foraging ecology, and diet of Steller’s jays is essential for developing and implementing effective management strategies to lower predation risk to murrelets and other nesting songbirds. To address my research questions I am integrating approaches from population biology, behavioral ecology, stable isotope ecology, and landscape ecology. For more information, see the Steller’s jay research page.

EDUCATION and training

  • PhD Zoology, December 2016 (anticipated), University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • NSF IGERT China Program Trainee, 2008-2010, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • MS Natural Resource Ecology and Management, 2008, University of Michigan
  • Graduate Certificate in GIS and Spatial Analysis, 2007, University of Michigan
  • BA Biology, French (minor), 2001, Lawrence University


West, E. H. and M. Z. Peery. In Press. Behavioral mechanisms leading to improved fitness in a subsidized predator. Oecologia.

West, E. H., E. K. Hofmeister, M. Z. Peery. In Press. Sero-survey for West Nile virus antibodies in Steller’s jays (Cyanocitta stelleri) captured in coastal California. Journal of Wildlife Diseases.

West, E. H., W. R. Henry, W. Goldenberg, M. Z. Peery. 2016. Influence of food subsidies on the foraging ecology of a synanthropic species in protected areas. Ecosphere 7(10): 1-15.

Peery, M. Z., B. N. Reid, R. Kirby, R. Stoelting, E. H. Doucet-Bëer, S. J. Robinson, C. Vasquez-Carrillo, J. N. Pauli, P. J. Palsbøll. In Press. More precisely biased: increasing the number of markers is not a silver bullet in genetic bottleneck testing. Molecular Ecology 22: 3451-3467

Peery, M. Z., R. Kirby, B. N. Reid, R.Stoelting, E. H. Doucet-Bëer, S. J. Robinson,C. Vasquez-Carrillo, J. N. Pauli, P. J. Palsbøll. 2012. Reliability of genetic bottleneck tests for detecting recent population declines. Molecular Ecology 21(14): 3403–3418. Invited Review.

Van Den Hoek, J., Baumgartner, J., Doucet-Bëer, E. H., Hildebrandt, T., Robinson, B.E., Zinda, J.A. 2012. Understanding the Challenges and Rewards of Social-Ecological Research in China. Society & Natural Resources 25:12, 1324–1329