Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

Loren Merrill
Title: Postdoctoral Researcher
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Office address:
Forbes Hall
Champaign, IL 61820
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Office room: 2091
Location: Urbana-Champaign
Phone: 217-244-8187


I am examining the effects of nest-site selection on a suite of physiological and parasitological parameters for 6 species of shrub-nesting birds along a habitat urbanization gradient. The goal of this research is to understand how nest-site location influences chick condition as well as parental investment, in three species that are declining in the state, and three species that are stable. 

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Selected publications:

Ellis, V.A., M.D. Collins, M.C.I. Medeiros, E.H.R. Sari, E.D. Coffey, R.C. Dickerson, M. Joyce, C.Lugarini, J.A. Stratford, D.R. Henry, L. Merrill, A. Matthews, A. Hanson, J. Roberts, M.R. Kunkel, & R.E. Ricklefs. (2015) Regional community structure of avian haemosporidian parasites in eastern North America. Early Edition; Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Ellis, V.A., S. Cornet, L. Merrill, M.R. Kunkel, T. Tsunekage, & R.E. Ricklefs. (2015) Host immune responses toexperimental infection of Plasmodium relictum (lineage SGS1) in domestic canaries (Serinus canaria).  Parasitology Research, 1-10.

Merrill, L., & J.L. Grindstaff. (2015) Pre and post-natal antigen exposure can program the stress axis ofadult zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata): evidence for environment matching. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 45:71-79

Merrill, L., P.L.González-Gómez, V.A. Ellis, I.I. Levin,R.A. Vásquez, & J.C. Wingfield. (2015) A blurring oflife-history lines: immune function, molt and reproduction in a highly stable environment. General and Comparative Endocrinology, 213:65-73

Merrill, L., & P.M. Collins. (2015) Environment and sex-specific allocation strategies among gonadal, somaticand immune indices in a marine fish. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 93:207-212

Merrill, L. (2015) Chelydra serpentina (Snapping Turtle). Ritualized aggressive behavior. Herpetological Review

Merrill, L., T.E. Stewart,* P.L. Gonzalez-Gomez, J.C. Wingfield, V.A. Ellis, & S.I. Rothstein. (2015) Epauletsize and current condition in red-winged blackbirds: examining a semi-static signal, testosterone, immune function, and parasites. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 88:11-21

Stewart, T.E.,* & L. Merrill. (2015) Parasites of the red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus): sexual biasesand the role of immunity. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 93:21-29

Merrill, L. & J.L. Grindstaff. (2014) Maternal antibody transfer can lead to suppression of humoral immunity indeveloping zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 87: 740-751

Merrill, L., S.D. Levinson,* A.L. O’Loghlen, J.C. Wingfield, & S.I. Rothstein. (2014) Bactericidal capacity is negatively linked to epaulet size, but positively linked to baseline corticosterone in male Red-winged        Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus). The Auk, 131: 3-11

Merrill, L., A.L. O’Loghlen, J.C. Wingfield, & S.I. Rothstein. (2013) Linking a static signal to current condition:song repertoire size, corticosterone and immunity in the Brown-headed Cowbird. Condor, 115: 434-441

Gonzalez-Gomez, P.L., L. Merrill, C. Venegas, J.I. Pantoja, R. Vasquez, V.A. Ellis, & J.C. Wingfield. (2013)Breaking down seasonality: androgen modulation and stress response in a highly stable environment. General and Comparative Endocrinology, 191: 1-12

O’Loghlen, A.L., L. Merrill, & S.I. Rothstein. (2013) Fidelity of song imitation and stability of dialect songs inBrown- headed Cowbirds (Molothrus ater). Condor, 115:677-686

Merrill, L., A.L. O’Loghlen, J.C. Wingfield, & S.I. Rothstein. (2013) Immune Function in an avian broodparasite and its non-parasitic relative. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 86: 61-72

Merrill, L., F. Angelier, A.L. O’Loghlen, S.I. Rothstein, & J.C. Wingfield. (2012) Sex-specific variation in Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) immunity following acute stress: a mechanistic approach. Oecologia, 170: 25-38

Ellis, V.A.,* L. Merrill, S.I. Rothstein, A.L. O’Loghlen, & J.C. Wingfield. (2012) Physiological consequences of molt in Brown-headed Cowbirds (Molothrus ater). The Auk, 129: 231-238

O’Loghlen, A.L., V.A. Ellis,* D. Zaratzian*, L. Merrill, & S.I. Rothstein. (2011) Cultural evolution and long- term song stability in a dialect population of Brown-headed Cowbirds (Molothrus ater). Condor, 113: 449-461



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Postdoctoral Associate: Oklahoma State University (2012-2013)

Ph.D.: University of California, Santa Barbara (2012)

BS: Cornell University (2001)

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