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T. Scott Sillett

Research Wildlife Biologist
B.A., University of Arizona; M.S., Louisiana State University; Ph.D., Dartmouth College

Scott Sillett is a research wildlife biologist at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. He investigates the ecology and behavior of both migratory and resident species. His research emphasizes experimental and multi-decade studies of wild bird populations. He collaborates with scientists and students at the Smithsonian, Colorado State University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, the National Park Service, the University of Georgia and The Nature Conservancy.

Sillett's projects include:

  • Behavioral and demographic responses of migratory birds to environmental variation
  • Integrating knowledge of local adaptation, ecosystem engineering and anthropogenic effects into conservation efforts for island birds
  • Ecology of bird populations throughout the annual cycle
Sillett is part of an interdisciplinary group of researchers who conduct extensive monitoring of bird demography and environmental conditions. This work is unique in North America in both its duration and intensity. Sillett helped pioneer the study of bird populations throughout the annual cycle and was the first to demonstrate that global climate cycles and mortality during migration affect population dynamics. His research also explores how conservation and habitat restoration can benefit from understanding how humans have shaped biodiversity over thousands of years.
Sillett earned a B.A. from the University of Arizona in 1989, a M.S. from Louisiana State University in 1992, and a Ph.D. from Dartmouth College in 2000. He was a postdoctoral scholar at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center from 2000 to 2001. Sillett joined the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center in 2002.
In his spare time, Sillett enjoys bird watching, hiking, traveling, fishing, astronomy and reading science fiction and history. He lives in Takoma Park, Maryland, with his wife.
Recent Papers: 
Kaiser, Sara A., Risk, Benjamin B., Sillett, T. Scott and Webster, Michael S. 2017. Ecological and Social Factors Constrain Spatial and Temporal Opportunities for Mating in a Migratory Songbird. American Naturalist, 283-296. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/690203
Kaiser, Sara A., Taylor, Scott A., Chen, Nancy, Sillett, T. Scott, Bondra, Eliana R. and Webster, Michael S. 2017. A comparative assessment of SNP and microsatellite markers for assigning parentage in a socially monogamous bird. Molecular Ecology Resources, 183-193. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1755-0998.12589
Langin, K. M., Sillett, T. S., Funk, W. C., Morrison, S. A. and Ghalambor, C. K. 2017. Partial support for the central-marginal hypothesis within a population: reduced genetic diversity but not increased differentiation at the range edge of an island endemic bird. Heredity, 8-15. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/hdy.2017.10

Projects