Dr. Daniel Shustack

Professor, Environmental Studies



In very broad terms, I study wild animals. Many of my research methods involves observing and/or capturing wild animals, but I have also worked with students on plant projects. These sorts of projects can be logistically challenging for students to complete during the semester, but there are typically ways to incorporate some field work with lab work, library research and data analysis.  I am always looking for motivated and capable students to contribute to these ongoing projects. Or, if you have some other research idea related to animals come see me and we can discuss your idea and the feasibility of making that happen. 

Data collectionVeery and Black-throated Blue Warblers in the MCLA forest: Every May-June I capture, band and monitor Veery and Black-throated Blue Warblers that nesting in the MCLA forest.  One student completed looked at nesting materials in the Veery nests. Besides gaining bird handling experience, there are options for student projects related to individual variation in songs across years or some other aspect of these birds’ ecology or behavior. 

Nest site reuse: Most smaller birds do not reuse nest sites from year to year. However, my review of  the 700+ species accounts of North American birds shows that this behavior is surprisingly common and widespread across avian taxa. I’m currently looking for data sets of potential covariates and field testing some of the predictions from this synthesis.  

Ecology and Life cycle of feathers: Little is known about how feathers are used by other species and ultimately break down and are recycled in the environment. This project includes measuring decomposition rates of shed feathers, documenting use of these feathers by other vertebrates, and sampling microbial communities on living birds. There are both field and lab components to this project. 

I also have ongoing projects on Northern Cardinal plumage coloration (involves catching cardinals and collecting feathers) and monitoring red-backed salamanders in the MCLA forest. I’d like to get a small mammal trapping project going on some altered grasslands in Northern Berkshire County.

Contact Information

Office: CSI 225D


Curriculum Vita


Office Hours

By appointment 



Ph.D. in Natural Resources, School of Environment and Natural Resources, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, 2008

M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology, The Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, 2004

B.S. in Biology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, 2000

Courses Taught

Ornithology, Environmental Resources: Science and Management

Introduction to Environmental Systems

The Environment of South Florida

Green Living Seminar: Issues and Approaches to Avian Conservation