× Entry passes are now required to visit the Zoo. Please review the new COVID-19 safety policies and exhibit closures before booking your trip.

Share this page:

Brian S. Evans, Ph.D.

Migratory Bird Ecologist
A.S., Asheville-Buncombe Community Technical College; B.S., University of North Carolina at Asheville; Ph.D., University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

Brian Evans is a quantitative ecologist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Migratory Bird Center (SMBC), which studies and educates the public on the ecology of migratory birds. Evans’ research interests are focused on quantifying the influence of urbanization on bird populations and communities and evaluating how to effectively engage the public in the ecology and conservation of urban systems.

Evans' projects include:

  • Assisting in the development of a curriculum on the use of tracking data in the study of avian migration
  • Quantifying the influence of urbanization on the community and population ecology of migratory and resident birds
  • Studying the movement and dispersal of resident and migrant birds in urban environments
  • Developing and implementing a year-round educational banding station at the Smithsonian's National Zoo
Brian’s research has led to a deeper understanding of the population ecology of resident and migrant birds across a gradient of human land-use intensity. As a computer programmer specializing in data wrangling and spatial analysis, he contributes to a variety of SMBC projects and provides training to colleagues. As an educator, Brian has developed a banding demonstration program at the Smithsonian's National Zoo, helps facilitate SMBC citizen science and education projects, and co-developed a graduate-level course on the ecology of bird migration.
Evans received an associate's of science degree from Asheville-Buncombe Community College in 2003 and a bachelor’s of science in ecology from the University of North Carolina at Asheville in 2006. Evans began working with SMBC as a field technician in 2007, after working for a number of years across a variety of systems (e.g., salamanders, benthic macroinvertebrates). He completed his doctoral dissertation research at SMBC and received his Ph.D. in quantitative ecology from the UNC-Chapel Hill in 2015.
Brian grew up turning over logs, watching lightning storms and exploring the abandoned mills and woods around his boyhood home. His early excitement for nature led him to a deep passion for ecology. This passion guides his search to understand how humans shape ecosystems and how we might best share our knowledge to foster positive conservation outcomes.
Recent Publications: 

Evans BS, AM Kilpatrick, AH Hurlbert, and PP Marra. 2017. Dispersal in the urban matrix: Assessing the influence of landscape permeability on the settlement patterns of breeding songbirds. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2017.00063.

Evans BS, TB Ryder, R Reitsma, AH Hulbert, and PP Marra. 2015. Characterizing avian survival along a rural-to-urban land use gradient. Ecology 96: 1631-1640. doi: 10.1890/14-0171.1

Ryder TB, R Reitsma, B Evans, and PP Marra. 2010. Quantifying avian nest survival along an urbanization gradient using citizen- and scientist-generated data. Ecological Applications 20: 419-426. doi: 10.1890/09-0040.1