David B. Lank


University Research Associate and Adjunct Professor,
Centre for Wildlife Ecology
Behavioral Ecology Research Group

Department of Biological Sciences
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, British Columbia
Canada V5A 1S6
Voice: (778) 782-3010

FAX: (778) 782-3496

Research Interests

Behavioural ecology in population and conservation contexts. I focus on the evolutionary ecology of animal mating and parental care strategies and systems. I examine sources of within species and within-sex variation in strategies to test models of current adaptive significance, in a context of comparative studies, to shed light on the evolutionary origins of characters. I combine observational and experimental approaches to science. I have a specialized interest and expertise in birds with precocial young, such as shorebirds and waterfowl.

Specific interests include (1) alternative breeding strategies, including a genetic dimorphism in the mating behavior of male Ruffs, a lekking sandpiper, (2) year-round population biology of shorebirds, including breeding, migration, and non-breeding systems (Western Sandpiper, Dunlin, Red-necked phalarope, Temminck's stint), with with basic biological and conservation applications, and (3) conservation biology of Marbled Murrelets and the Tuamotu Sandpiper in French Polynesia.

Current Projects

I am currently involved in 4 major research areas:

Click here for Current CV

Selected Publications by Topic

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Maintenance of Polymorphisms in Ruffs:

Mode of Inheritance and Genomics:

Küpper, C., M. Stocks, J. E. Risse, N. dos Remedios, L.L. Farrell, S.B. McRae, T.C. Morgan, N. Karlionova, P. Pinchuk, Y.I. Verkuil, A.S. Kitaysky, J.C. Wingfield, T. Piersma, K. Zeng, J. Slate, M. Blaxter, D.B. Lank and T. Burke. 2015. A supergene determines highly divergent male reproductive morphs in the ruff. Nature Genetics. See: doi:10.1038/ng.3443 .

Lank, D.B., L.L. Farrell, T. Burke, T. Piersma and S.B. McRae. 2013. A dominant allele controls development into female mimic male and diminutive female ruffs. Biol. Lett. 9: 20130653. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2013.0653

Farrell, L.L., T. Burke, J. Slate, S.B. McRae and D.B. Lank. 2013. Mapping the female mimic morph locus on the microsatellite linkage map of the ruff. BMC Genetics 14:109. doi:10.1186/1471-2156-14-109 324

Farrell, L.L., T. Burke, J. Slate and D.B. Lank. 2013. A first-generation microsatellite linkage map of the ruff. Ecol. Evol. 3: 4631–4640. doi:10.1002/ece3.830

Ekblom, R., L.L. Farrell, D.B. Lank and T. Burke. 2012. Gene expression divergence and nucleotide differentiation between males of different colour morphs and mating strategies in the ruff. Ecol Evol 2: 2485–2505. doi: 10.1002/ece3.370.

Farrell, L.L., D.A. Dawson, G.J. Horsburgh, T. Burke and D.B. Lank. 2012. Isolation, characterization and predicted genome locations of ruff (Philomachus pugnax, AVES) microsatellite loci. Cons. Gen. Res. 4: 763–771. doi: 10.1007/s12686-012-9639-0

Lank, D.B., Coupe, M. and Wynne-Edwards, K.E.. 1999.Testosterone-induced male traits in female ruffs (Philomachus pugnax): autosomal inheritance and gender differentiation. Proc. Roy. Soc. B, Lond. 266:2323-2330.

Lank, D.B., C.M. Smith, O. Hanotte, T.A. Burke, and F. Cooke. 1995. Genetic polymorphism for alternative mating strategies in lekking male ruff, Philomachus pugnax. Nature, 378, 59-62. [[pdf, 1.4mb]]

Mating System and Mate Choice:

Verkuil, Y.I., J. C. Juillet, J. C.E.W. Hooijmeijer, D.B. Lank and T. Piersma. 2014. Genetic variation in nuclear and mitochondrial markers supports a large sex difference in life-time reproductive skew in a lekking species. Ecol. Evol. doi: 10.1002/ece3.1188.

Jaatinen K., A. Lehikoinen and D.B. Lank. 2010. Female-biased sex ratios and the proportion of cryptic male morphs of migrant juvenile ruffs (Philomachus pugnax) in Finland.Ornis Fennica 87:125–134.

Lank, D.B., C.M. Smith, O. Hanotte, A. Ohtonen, S. Bailey and T. Burke. 2001. High frequency of polyandry in a lek mating system. Behavioral Ecology 13:209-215.

Hugie, D.M. and Lank, D.B. 1996. The resident's dilemma: a female choice model for the evolution of alternative mating strategies in lekking male ruffs (Philomachus pugnax). Behav. Ecol. 8:218-225. [[pdf, 3.5 mb]]

Lank, D.B. and C.M. Smith. 1992. Females prefer larger leks: an experimental study with ruffs Philomachus pugnax. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 30:323-329.

LankD.B. and C.M. Smith 1987. Conditional lekking in ruff (Philomachus pugnax). Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 20:137–145..

Plumage polymorphism:

Lank, D.B. 2002. Diverse processes maintain plumage polymorphisms in birds. J. Avian Biol. 33:327-330.

Lank, D.B. and Dale, J. 2001. Visual signals for individual identification: the silent "song" of Ruffs. Auk 118:759-765.

Dale, J., D.B. Lank and H.K. Reeve. 2001. Signaling individuality vs. quality: a model and case studies with ruffs, queleas and house finches. Am. Nat. 158:75-86

Immunology and Life History:

Lozano, G.A. D.B. Lank and B. Addison. 2013. Immune and oxidative stress trade-offs in four classes of ruffs (Philomachus pugnax) with different reproductive strategies. Can. J. Zool. 91:212–218.

Nebel, S. D.M. Buehler, S. Kubli, D.B. Lank and C.C. Guglielmo. 2013. Does innate immune function decline with age in captive ruffs Philomachus pugnax? Anim. Biol. 63: 233-240.

Lozano, G.A. and D.B. Lank. 2004. Immunocompetence and testosterone-dependent condition traits in male ruffs (Philomachus pugnax). Anim. Biol. 54.315–329.

Lozano, G.A. and D.B. Lank. 2003. Seasonal trade-offs in cell-mediated immunosenescence in ruffs (Philomachus pugnax). Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. B. 270:1203-1208.

Shorebird Life Histories

Lank, D.B., C. Xu, B. Harrington, R.I.G. Morrison, C.L. Gratto-Trevor, P.W. Hicklin, B.K. Sandercock, P.A. Smith, E. Kwon, J. Rausch, L.D. Pirie Dominix, D.J. Hamilton, J. Paquet, S.E. Bliss, S. Neima, C. Friis, S.A. Flemming, A.M. Anderson and R.C. Ydenberg. 2017. Multi-decade continent-wide increase and decrease in wing length, but not bill length, of a long-distance migratory shorebird. Ecology and Evolution 7:3243-3256. doi: 10.1002/ece3.2898.

Xu, C., J. Barrett, D.B. Lank and R.C. Ydenberg. 2015. Large and irregular population fluctuations in migratory Pacific (Calidris alpina pacifica) and Atlantic (C. a. hudsonica) dunlins are driven by density-dependence and climatic factors. Population Ecology. doi: 10.1007/s10144-015-0502-5.

Lank, D.B. and Nebel S. 2006. Cross-cutting research on a flyway scale – beyond monitoring. In: Waterbirds Around the World. G.C. Boere, C.A. Galbraith and D.A. Stroud, eds. pp. 107–112. TSO Scotland Ltd., Edinburgh, UK..

O'Hara, P.D., G. Fernández, F. Becerril, H. de la Cueva and D.B. Lank. 2005. Life history varies with migratory distance in Western Sandpipers (Calidris mauri). J. Avian Biol. 36:191-202.

Fernández, G.,O'Hara, P.D. and D.B. Lank. 2004. Tropical and subtropical Western Sandpipers (Calidris mauri) differ in life history strategies. Ornitol. Neotrop. 15 (suppl.) 385-394.

Franks S.E., D.B. Lank, D.R. Norris, B.K. Sandercock, C.M. Taylor and T.K. Kyser. 2009. Feather isotope analysis discriminates age-classes of Western, Least, and Semipalmated Sandpipers when plumage methods are unreliable. J. Field Ornithol. 80:51-63.

Shorebird Breeding Biology

English W.B., E. Kwon, B.K. Sandercock, D.B. Lank. 2017. Effects of predator exclosures on reproductive success in Red-necked Phalaropes. Wader Study (in press).

English, W.B., D. Schamel, D.M. Tracy, D.F. Westneat and D.B. Lank. Sex ratio varies with egg investment in the red-necked phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus). Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 68: 1939–1949. doi: 10.1007/s00265-014-1800-1.

Thomson, R.L., V.-M. Pakanen, D. Tracy, L. Kvist, D.B. Lank, A. Rönkä and K. Koivula. 2014. Providing parental care entails variable mating opportunity costs for male Temminck’s stints. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 68:1261-1272. doi: 10.1007/s00265-014-1737-4.

Lank, D.B., L.W. Oring and S.J. Maxson. 1985. Mate and nutrient limitation of egg-laying in a polyandrous shorebird. Ecology 66:1513-1524.

Shorebird Migration Strategies and Predation Risk: Brown, S., C. Gratto-Trevor, R. Porter, E.L. Weiser, D. Mizrahi, M. Boldenow, R. Bentzen, R. Clay, M.-A. Giroux, E.Kwon, D.B. Lank, N. Lecomte, J. Liebezeit, V. Loverti, J. Rausch, B.K. Sandercock, S. Schulte, P. Smith, A. Taylor, B. Winn, S. Yezerinac, and R.B. Lanctot. 2017. Migratory connectivity of Semipalmated Sandpipers and implications for conservation. Condor 119:207-224. doi: 10.1650/CONDOR-16-55.1

Ydenberg R.C., Barrett J. Lank, D.B., Xu, C., Faber M. 2017. The redistribution of non-breeding dunlins in response to the post-DDT recovery of falcons. Oecologia 183: 1101-1110. doi: 10.1007/s00442-017-3835-2

Tavera, E.A., D.B. Lank and P.M. González. 2016. Effects of migration distance on life history strategies of Western and Semipalmated Sandpipers in Perú. Journal of Field Ornithology 87: 293–308. doi: 10.1111/jofo.12164

Jamieson, S.E., R.C. Ydenberg and D.B. Lank. 2014. Does predation danger on southward migration curtail parental investment by female western sandpipers? Anim. Migr. 2:34–43. doi: 10.2478/ami-2014-0004.

Hope, D.D., D.B. Lank and R.C. Ydenberg. 2014. Mortality-minimizing sandpipers vary stopover behaviour dependent on age and geographic proximity of migrating predators. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 68:827-838.

Franks, S.E. D.R. Norris, T.K. Kyser, G. Fernández, B. Schwarz, R. Carmona, M.A. Colwell, J. Correa Sandoval, A. Dondua, H.R. Gates, B. Haase, D.J. Hodkinson, A. Jiménez, R.B. Lanctot, B. Ortego, B.K. Sandercock, F. Sanders J.Y. Takekawa, N. Warnock, R.C. Ydenberg and D.B. Lank. 2012. Range-wide patterns of migratory connectivity in the western sandpiper Calidris mauri. J. Avian Biol. 155–167.

Taylor, C.M., D.B. Lank, A.C. Pomeroy and R.C. Ydenberg. 2008. Relationship between stopover site choice of migrating sandpipers, their population status, and environmental stressors. Isr. J. Ecol. Evol. 53:245–261.

Ydenberg, R.C., R.W. Butler, D.B. Lank, B.D. Smith and J. Ireland. 2004. Western sandpipers alter migration tactics to mitigate danger from recovering peregrine falcon populations. Proc. Roy. Soc. B, Lond. 271:1263-1269.

Lank, D.B., R.W. Butler, J. Ireland and R.C. Ydenberg. 2003. Effects of predation danger on migration strategies of sandpipers. Oikos 103:303-319.

Lank, D.B. and R.C. Ydenberg. 2003. Death and danger at stopover sites: problems with "predation risk". J. Avian Biol 34:225-228.

Ydenberg, R.C., R.W. Butler, D.B. Lank, C.G. Guglielmo and M. Lemon. 2002. Trade-offs, condition dependence, and stopover site selection by migrating sandpipers. J. Avian Biol. 33:47-55.

Lank, D.B. 1989. Why fly by night? Inferences from tidally induced migratory departures of sandpipers. J. Field Ornithol. 60:154-161.

Lank, D.B. 1983. Migratory behaviour of semipalmated sandpipers at inland and coastal staging areas. Ph.D thesis, Cornell University.

Shorebird non-breeding biology

Franks S.E., G. Fernández, D.J. Hodkinson, T.K. Kyser and D.B. Lank. 2013. The long and the short of it: no dietary specialisation between male and female western sandpipers despite strong bill size dimorphism. PLoSOne doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079835

Hobson, K.A., G.L Slater, D.B. Lank, R.L.Milner and R. Gardiner. 2013. Agricultural lands subsidize winter diet of Pacific dunlin Calidris alpina pacifica at two major estuaries. Condor 115:515–524.

Ydenberg, R.C., D. Dekker, G. Kaiser, P.C.F. Shepherd, L.J. Evans Ogden, K Rickards and D.B. Lank. 2010. Winter body mass and over-ocean flocking as components of danger management by Pacific dunlins. BMC Ecology 10:1. www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6785/10/1. doi:10.1186/1472-6785-10-1

Fernández, G. and D.B. Lank. 2010. Do sex and habitat differences in anti-predator behavior of Western Sandpipers Calidris mauri reflect cumulative or compensatory processes? J. Ornithol. 151:665–672.

Zharikov Y., R.W. Elner, P.C.F. Shepherd and D.B. Lank. 2009. Interplay between physical and predator landscapes affects transferability of shorebird distribution models. Landcape Ecol. 24: 129-144. DOI 10.1007/s10980-008-9291-y

Fernández, G. and D.B. Lank. 2008. Foraging behaviour of non-breeding Western Sandpipers Calidris mauri as a function of sex, habitat and flocking. Ibis 150: 518-526.

Evans Ogden, L.J., S. Bittmann, D.B. Lank and F.C. Stevenson. 2008. Factors influencing use of farmland habitat by shorebirds wintering in the Fraser River Delta, Canada. Agr. Ecosyst.. Environ. 124:252–258.

Evans Ogden, L.J., K.A. Hobson, D.B. Lank and S. Bittmann. 2005. Stable isotope analysis reveals that agricultural habitat provides an important dietary component for nonbreeding Dunlin. Avian Conservation and Ecology - Écologie et conservation des oiseaux 1 (1): 3. [online] http://www.ace-eco.org/vol1/iss1/art3/

Marbled Murrelet Conservation Biology

Silvergieter, M.P. and D.B. Lank. 2011. Patch scale nest-site selection by Marbled murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus). Avian Conserv. Ecol. – Écol. Conserve. oiseaux 6(2): 6. [online] URL: http://www.ace-eco.org/vol6/iss2/art6/

Silvergieter, M.P. and D.B. Lank. 2011. Marbled murrelets select distinctive nest trees within old-growth forest patches. Avian Conserv. Ecol. – Écol. Conserve. oiseaux 6(2): 3. [online] URL: http://www.ace-eco.org/vol6/iss2/art3/

Burger, A.E., R.A. Ronconi, M.P. Silvergieter, C. C., V. Bahn, I.A. Manley, A. Cober and D.B. Lank. 2010. Factors affecting the availability of thick epiphyte mats and other potential nest platforms for Marbled Murrelets in British Columbia. Can. J. Forest Res. 40:727-746.

Waterhouse F.L., A.E. Burger, P.K. Ott, A. Donaldson, D.B. Lank. 2010. Does interpretation of Marbled Murrelet habitat change with different classification methods? B. C. J. Ecosyst. Manage. 10:20-34. www.forrex.org/publications/jem/ISS52/vol10_no3_art4.pdf

Malt J.M. and D.B. Lank. 2009. Marbled Murrelet nest predation risk in managed forest landscapes: dynamic fragmentation effects at multiple scales. Ecol. Applic. 19:1274–1287.

Malt, J.M., and D.B. Lank. 2007. Temporal dynamics of edge effects on nest predation risk for the marbled murrelet. Biol. Conserv. 140:160-173. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2007.08.011

Burger, A.E., I.A. Manley, M. Silvergieter, D.B. Lank, K.M. Jordan, T.D. Bloxton and M.G. Raphael. 2009. Re-use of nest sites by Marbled Murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus) in British Columbia. Northw. Natur. 90:217–226.

Waterhouse, F.L., A.E. Burger, D.B. Lank, P.K. Ott, E.A. Krebs, and N. Parker. 2009. Using the low-level aerial survey method to identify nesting habitat of Marbled Murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus). BC J. Ecosyst. Manage. 10:80-96. www.forrex.org/publications/jem/ISS50/vol10_no1_art8.pdf

Burger, A.E., F.L. Waterhouse, A. Donaldson, C. Whittaker and D.B. Lank. 2009. New methods for assessing nesting habitat: air photo interpretation and low-level aerial surveys. BC J. Ecosys. Manage.10:4-14. www.forrex.org/publications/jem/ISS50/vol10_no1_art8.pdf.

Zharikov Y., D.B. Lank, F. Cooke. 2007. Influence of landscape pattern on breeding distribution and success in a threatened Alcid, the marbled murrelet: model transferability and management implications. J. App. Ecol. 44:748–759. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2007.01319.x

Zharikov, Y., D.B. Lank, F. Huettmann, R.W. Bradley, N. Parker, P. P.-W. Yen, L. McFarlane Tranquilla and F. Cooke. 2006. Habitat selection and breeding success in a forest-nesting Alcid, the marbled murrelet, in two landscapes with different logging histories in south-western Canada. Landscape Ecol. 21:107–120. doi: 10.1007/s10980-005-1438-5

Snow Goose Biology

Cooke F., Rockwell, R.F., and Lank, D. B. 1995. The Snow Geese of La Perouse Bay: Natural Selection in the Wild. Oxford University Press.

Lank, D.B., M.A. Bousfield, F. Cooke and R.F. Rockwell. 1991. Why do snow geese adopt eggs? Behav. Ecol. 2:181-187.

Lank, D.B., R.F. Rockwell and F. Cooke. 1990. Frequency-dependent fitness consequences of intraspecific nest parasitism in snow geese. Evolution 44: 1436-1453.

Lank DB, P. Mineau, R.F. Rockwell and F. Cooke. 1989. Intraspecific nest parasitism and extra-pair copulation in lesser snow geese. Anim. Behav. 37: 74-89.

Current Graduate Students

Graduated Students

Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Associates


David Lank, a.k.a. Dov, has asked questions about human and animal behavior for as long as he can remember. His memories begin around the summer of 1969, during which he went to Bethel, NY (quiz time.. why? ), Merrit Island, FL (quiz again), and hitch-hitchhiked across North America. After 2 years of coursework in psychology and anthropology at Columbia University, he concluded that neither field had satisfactory paradigms and tools for studying behavior, so he changed locations (to Marlboro College, VT) and organisms. The summer of 1972 spent at Bowdoin College's research station at Kent Island , Bay of Fundy, transformed him into a field biologist and began his inordinate interest in sandpipers. In approximate chronological order, he has subsequently investigated orientation mechanisms, migratory ecology, breeding biology, mating and parental care systems, population biology and behavior genetics of various sandpiper species, and the conservation biology of Marbled Murrelets. While doing so, he obtained a MS degree from the University of Minnesota, a PhD from Cornell, with Steve Emlen, and hung out in North Dakota with Lew Oring, The Ohio State University with Jerry Downhower, at Queen's University, Kingston, with Fred Cooke, and at Simon Fraser University with the Behavioural Ecology Research Group and the Centre for Wildlife Ecology . Since 1984, he and his spouse Connie Smith have delved into the maintenance of a behavioral polymorphism in male mating strategy of Ruffs, a peculiar Old World sandpiper, which he considered to be the most interesting bird in the world, and became even more interesting with the discovery of permanent "female mimic" males in the species. The ruff work included 6 field seasons in Finland and the maintenance of a pedigreed breeding flock since 1985, currently numbering ca. 350 birds spanning 16 generations. He has organized the "Western Sandpiper Research Network" and is active in the conservation biology of shorebirds, including the endangered Tuamotu Sandpiper, and of Marbled Murrelets