Graduate Student Opportunities
in Dan Mennill's Lab


Research in our lab focuses on the ecology and evolution of animal vocal behaviour and animal mating strategies, with a focus on wild birds in the temperate zone and wild birds, frogs, and mammals in the tropics, and on bioacoustic approaches to studying the ecology and conservation of wild animals. If you are interested in studying these topics in our lab as a graduate student, please read the information on this page and write to me to introduce yourself.

A note for undergraduate students: We have many opportunities for undergraduate students on our research team, to study birds, frogs, and whales under my supervision and the supervision of grad students and postdocs on our team. Possibilities include NSERC USRA, Oustanding Scholars, IGNITE, and volunteer positions, If this interests you, please write to me to introduce yourself: dmennillATuwindsorDOTca.

Project Ideas

I encourage students to develop graduate thesis projects that match their individual interests within the fields of animal communication and avian bioacoustics. You may interact directly with one of our ongoing research projects or you may develop your own project. All projects in our lab involve both field-based and lab-based research components. In Canada, field research is possible in the vicinity of University of Windsor's campus around the Great Lakes, at Queen's University Biological Station in eastern Ontario, or at Bowdoin Scientific Research Station in New Brunswick. In Costa Rica, field research is possible in Sector Santa Rosa of the Guanacaste Conservation Area. Presently, we have ongoing field projects in Canada on the behavioural ecology and communication strategies and mating strategies of songbirds including Black-capped Chickadees and Savannah Sparrows. In Costa Rica, we are presently studying the behaviour and ecology of non-migratory, territorial birds, with a special focus on the duetting behaviour of neotropical birds. We am also interested in the vocal behaviour of mammals and anurans. You can learn more about our current research projects by visiting my publications page.

Our lab is equipped with advanced equipment for field studies of animal behaviour and communication. In our lab you can develop a research project using digital recording equipment (for both automated recording and focal recording), interactive playback equipment, multi-speaker playback equipment, multi-channel array recording equipment (for both wired and wireless microphone arrays), and high precision GPS equipment. Our lab is an international leader in the development of new technologies for studying acoustic communication in wild animals, and you can expect to develop expertise with state-of-the-art techniques in this area. The lab component of your research can involve computer-based analyses of single-channel and multi-channel field recordings. The Mennill Sound Analysis Lab houses over 250 TB of drive space containing more than a decade of archived digital recordings from around the world. In collaboration with my colleagues, you can also have access to advanced facilities for laboratory analyses including molecular paternity analyses, analyses of genetic relatedness, molecular sex assignment, and hormone analyses. The University of Michigan Vertebrate Museum is only a short drive away in Ann Arbor, Michigan, so that projects that focus on museum-based studies are also possible.

What to expect in the Mennill Lab

Our lab is a dynamic, diverse, and interactive place. You can expect to interact with me and with the other graduate students, undergraduate students, and postdocs in the lab on a frequent basis. You can expect to develop skills in data analysis and data presentation. I will encourage you and assist you in preparing your research for publication in scientific journals. I will also encourage you to present the results of your research at scientific meetings. I expect you to work hard and to approach your studies with a critical eye and a creative state of mind. We often meet socially on Friday afternoons and we have several lab social events every semester, often involving a birdwatching expedition with a visiting guest speaker. Many more social activities are organized by the Department of Biology Graduate Students Association (DBGSA).


Funding for graduate studies in our lab is available through a variety of sources. As with all graduate students at the University of Windsor, students in our lab are guaranteed a competitive funding package upon admission to the graduate school. Funding comes in the form of Graduate Teaching Assistantships (September to April of each year) and Research Assistantships from my grants (May to August of each year). Funding can be supplemented through scholarships that you apply for. I encourage you to apply for scholarships from NSERC (link:, go to "Information for Students and Fellows") and from OGS (link: If you are not familiar with these programs, I can help you learn about the application process. Details about grad student support, as well as other information about my department, can be found at (click on the Grad Students link along the left-hand side and choose Biological Sciences Graduate Studies). I encourage all of my students to apply to the many granting agencies who support graduate student research (see BirdNet for a comprehensive list of all grants available).

University of Windsor

The University of Windsor is an research university in southern Ontario. Historically recognized for a strong teaching program, the University has recently developed a research portfolio in the areas of ecology and evolution. The Ecology Evolution Environment and Behaviour (EEEB) group is comprised of a diverse group of research scientists that are some of the most outstanding research-oriented biologists in Canada.

We bring in a wide variety of guest speakers to the University of Windsor through the Departmental Seminar Series and through the Behaviour Cognition and Neuroscience Seminar Series. In the recent past we have hosted very stimulating visits from Dr. Albrecht Schulte-Hostedde, Dr. Peter Dunn, Dr. Linda Whittingham, Dr. Jordan Price, Dr. John Klicka, Dr. Ryan Norris, Dr. Jeff Podos, Dr. David Lahti, Dr. Beth MacDougall-Shackleton, Dr. Nigel Mann, Dr. Paul Martin, Dr. Ben Evans, Dr. Angelika Poesel, Dr. Geoff Hill, Dr. Gail Patricelli, Dr. Chris Sturdy, Dr. Jim Quinn, Dr. John Burt, and Dr. Michael Kasumovic.

The city of Windsor is a good place to live and study. It is an underrated city which hosts an impressive diversity of restaurants, pubs, hiking trails, lakes, and rivers. Bird watching around Windsor is excellent in all seasons, but especially during migration. Point Pelee and Holiday Beach are two of the world's finest spots for watching bird migration, and they're both just a short drive away. Many graduate students in our laboratory volunteer with the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory, and have expanded their mist netting skills each fall while assisting with local migration monitoring efforts.

Contact Me

If you are interested in graduate work in my lab, please contact me to introduce yourself (dmennillATuwindsorDOTca). Please include your CV and a brief explanation of your research interests. Please note that I often recruit students in November, December, and January to start in the field the subsequent spring, although I am always willing to interact with interested students.

Note to non-Canadians: Tuition at University of Windsor is expensive for non-Canadians.  The Canadian Government and University of Windsor does offer a very limited number of scholarships for non-Canadians who have strong track records (e.g. several published papers, high grades, and experience as a biologist) and I would be happy to communicate with you about these scholarships if this applies to you. Otherwise, it is quite difficult for me to take on non-Canadians unless they have independent funding. I hope that this situation might change in the future.

Dan recording a  Savannah Sparrow.

Recording animal communication networks using a 16-channel acoustic location system.

Setting up automated listening stations to conduct long-term remote monitoring.

Multi-speaker playback for simulating interactions between multiple birds.

Iinteractive playback for engaging territorial birds in realistic interactions.

The Biology Building at the University of Windsor and the Mennill/Norris Lab Subaru.

The Mennill Sound Analysis Laboratory.

Capacity for storage of over 150 terrabytes of digital sound recordings.

Study museum specimens at the nearby University of Michigan vertebrate museum.

Field research site: Ontario at Queen's University Biological Station (QUBS).

A black-capped chickadee at QUBS.

Winter field research banding chickadees at QUBS.

Field research site: The Mennill/Doucet research house in Costa Rica.

A duetting Thryothorus wren in Costa Rica.

Adventuresome field research in Canada or the tropics.