David Craig

Professor of Biology

Education

  • PhD, University of Colorado, Boulder, 1997
  • BS, Lewis & Clark College, 1990

Bio

David P. Craig has been a behavioral ecologist for 30+ years focusing his field-oriented research on the response of animals to human modified ecosystems and subsequent changes in distribution and movement patterns. The work combines life-history, physiological, and ecological information to address questions related to migration, predation, parental-care, and social behavior. Craig has as particular interests in Caspian terns and American crows, but has developed expertise with many species including cormorants, gulls, jays, ravens, plovers, murrelets, squirrels, and grasshoppers. Craig is a Professor of Biology and the Co-director of Science Collaborative Research Program at Willamette University. Craig’s passion for interdisciplinary and collaborative work helped grow undergraduate research programs in the Pacific Northwest funded by the National Science Foundation, Carnegie Mellon Foundation, and MJ Murdock Charitable Trust. His family includes a spouse of many years, his parents, brothers, a sister, and a large extended family of nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts, and in-laws. As the first in his immediate family to go to college, Craig cares deeply about educational success in underrepresented communities. Craig is also really into outdoor art, book clubs, social justice, and saving big old trees. One day he hopes to play the ukulele and be fluent in Spanish.

Research

I am naturalist and behavioral ecologist with field-oriented research that focuses on the response of animals to human modified ecosystems and their subsequent impact on community structure. The work combines life-history, physiological, and ecological information to address questions related to patterns of movement especially migration and changes in breeding range. I have a general interest in birds and have worked with a wide variety of species, but the conservation of seabirds and colonial waterbirds such as the Caspian tern (Hydroprogne caspia) have been especially important in my career. I have also pursued questions about the behavioral and population ecology of corvids (i.e. jays, crows, ravens), learned how crows recognize human faces, and the impacts that corvids' nest predation have on the organization of bird communities in coniferous forests. I am also interested in conservation of local natural resources and working with community and citizen science groups to collect data and monitor species of concern in the Pacific Northwest.

Teaching Philosophy

Outside the classroom there is no substitute for the direct experience that undergraduates gain by participating in research under the guidance of faculty members. I take particular joy in bringing students into various aspects of my current research program, advising independent undergraduate honor theses, and projects by undergraduates, public school teachers and summer interns from other academic institutions. The challenges from direct involvement with current biological investigations can be the catalyst for profound intellectual growth in many students. In addition, I have found that my own research benefits from my interactions with students.

Courses

IDS College Colloquium, BIOL 110

Principals of Biology, BIOL 125

Ecology, Evolution and Diversity, BIOL 297

Research Exploration in Biology, BIOL 353W

Behavioral Ecology, BIOL 490

Independent Study, BIOL 497 

Former CORAX student researchers

Shealyn Friedrich '12, and recent graduate of Masters in Education at the Willamette University School of Education

Kaeli Swift '09, currently a Doctoral student at the University of Washington's College of Forest Resources

Jacquelyn Grace '07 currently a Doctoral student in the Biology Department at Wake Forest University

Advised Student Research

  • Craig, D.P. and K.N. Swift*. 2008. Peer to peer photo sharing and field readable tags: a simple powerful tool for citizen science and following marked birds. American Ornithologists Union, Cooper Ornithological Society and Society of Canadian Ornithologists 2008 Meeting.
  • Craig, D.P., J. Shinn*, P. Swenson*, and J. Grace*. 2008. Fall migration, timing, and wintering sites of Columbia River estuary Caspian Terns as determined by satellite telemetry. 35th Annual Meeting – Pacific Seabird Group
  • Larson, K.W., D. P. Craig, Y. Suzuki, and D. Roby. 2008. A geographical analysis of Caspian tern band encounters in the Americas, 1022-2007. 35th Annual Meeting – Pacific Seabird Group
  • Allen, J., D.P. Craig, and J. Grace*. 2008. Ternin’ing to video to study diet, lateralization, and chick development among bill load holding birds. 35th Annual Meeting – Pacific Seabird Group
  • Phillips*, J. and D.P. Craig. 2008. A comparative study of color variation in the juvenal plumage of terns (Sternini). Annual Meeting for the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology.

Research Interests

My current field-oriented research focuses on response of avian predators to human modified ecosystems and their subsequent impact on community structure. The work combines life-history, physiological, and ecological information to address questions related to predation upon endangered fishes by a variety of colonial waterbirds including Caspain terns (Sterna caspia) , double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus), and gulls (Larus spp.). The theoretical framework for this research has grown in part from my previous research, which focused on several questions related to the behavioral and population ecology of corvids (i.e. jays, crows, ravens), and to the impacts that corvids' nest predation have on the organization of bird communities in coniferous forests.

Publications

Craig, D. P and K Larson. 2017. Migratory Connectivity of North American Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia) Populations. Waterbirds 40 (1):58-62.

Marzluff, J.M., J. Walls, H. N. Cornell, J. C. Withey, and D. P. Craig. 2010. Lasting recognition of a threatening person by wild American Crows. Animal Behavior 79(3):699-707.

K. C. Molina, K. L. Garrett, K. Larson, and D. P., Craig. 2009. Winter Distribution of the Western Gull-Billed Tern, Gelochelidon niloctica vanrossemi. Western Birds 40:2-20.

Grace*, J. and D. P. Craig. 2008. The development and lateralization of prey delivery in a bill load holding bird. Animal Behavior 75(6):2005-2011.

Larson, K. and D. P. Craig. 2006. Digiscoping vouchers for diet studies in bill load holding birds. Waterbirds 11:110-112.

Suryan, R., D.P. Craig, D. Roby, N. Chelgren, K. Collis, W. D. Shuford, and D. Lyons. 2004. Redistribution and growth of the Caspian Tern population in the Pacific Coast region of North America, 1981-2000. The Condor 106:777-790.

Roby, D., D. Lyons, D. P. Craig, K. Collis, and G.H. Visser. 2003. Quantifying the effect of predators on endangered species using a bioenergetics approach: Caspian terns and juvenile salmonids in the Columbia River estuary. Canadian Journal of Zoology 81:250-265.

Collis, K., D.D. Roby, D.P. Craig, S. Adamany, J. Adkins, and D.E. Lyons. 2002. Colony size and diet composition of piscivorous waterbirds on the lower Columbia River: Implications for losses of juvenile salmonids to avian predation. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 131:537-550.

Roby, D.D., K. Collis, D.E. Lyons, D.P. Craig, J. Adkins, A.M. Myers, and R.M. Suryan. 2002. Effects of colony relocation on diet and productivity of Caspian terns. Journal of Wildlife Management 66:662-673.

Craig, D. P., C. Bock. B. C. Bennett, and J. H. Bock. 1999. Habitat relationships among grasshoppers (Orthoptera: Acrididae) at the western limit of the Great Plains in Colorado. American Midland Naturalist 142:314-327.

Craig, D. P. 1998. Chipmunks use leverage to eat oversized eggs: Support for the use of quail eggs. The Auk 115(2):486-489, 1998.

Breese, D, B. Tershy, and D. P. Craig. 1993. Craveri's Murrelet: Confirmed Nesting and Fledging Age San Pedro Martir Island, Gulf of California. Colonial Waterbirds 16:92-94.

Awards

2017-2023 National Science Foundation S-STEM Award (Co-PI, Grant No. 1742159) “Fostering Equity, Support, and Community for Underrepresented STEM Students,” $646,986.00 (Dr. Alison Fisher, Principal Investigator).

2018 Willamette University Liberal Arts Research Collaborative, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, “Iconography, Memory, and Space,” $14,000 (co-PI Jennifer Jopp).

2015-2016 National Science Foundation Research Opportunity Award (Grant No. 1242573) “LTREB Renewal: Predicting the Responses of Swallows and Their Insect Prey to Climate Change,” $37,247 (Dr. David Winkler, Principal Investigator)

2015 Willamette University Biology Endowment Fund. “Supporting sabbatical research using ‘nano’ tags to track Tree Swallow movement” $3,500.

2015 Willamette University Faculty Resources Committee. Atkinson Research Expense Award, “Supporting sabbatical research using ‘nano’ tags to track Tree Swallow movement” $2,500.

2015 Willamette University Taul Watanabe Endowed Chair Fund. “Supporting sabbatical research using ‘nano’ tags to track Tree Swallow movement” $4,000.

2013-2014 Willamette University Liberal Arts Research Collaborative, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, “South Africa: Connecting Art & Science in Cacadu,” $20,000 (co-PI, Andries Fourie).