John F. Cavitt, Ph. D.

Associate Professor of Zoology
Weber State University




Avian Ecology Lab

Undergraduate Research


Undergraduate Research Opportunities in the Cavitt Lab

Student Research Opportunities

Students are encouraged to assist in the collection and analysis of data or to work with me to develop and carry-out their own research.  These students volunteer, receive course credit through Zool 4800 (Problems in Zoology) or are hired as field assistants.  If you are interested in participating in my research program please contact me and we can discuss the projects available and requirements for participation.

Undergraduate Student Theses

Thesis in Zoology (Zoology 4970) provides students with the opportunity to formalize their research experience into a larger project. Typically, students conduct their research over a one to two-year period and register for "thesis" during the time they write up the study. Students are required to present the work as a departmental seminar, and many theses have been published and/or presented at national/state/local meetings. The thesis option is excellent preparation for students interested in attending graduate school.


Recording data at a banding station.

Checking Cliff Swallow nests.


Observing parental behavior.

Extracting bird from mist nest.

Current and Recent Undergraduate Research

  • Rogerson, Jared D. 2000.  Sexual segregation in introduced California Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis californiana) on Antelope Island State Park, Utah. (View abstract as pdf file).

  • Spears, Lori. 2001.  The effects of avian pox on plumage coloration in male House Finches (Carpodacus mexicanus). (View abstract as pdf file)

  • McKinley, Kristina. 2003. Seasonal variation in the offspring sex ration of European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris).

  • Hill, Heather. In preparation. The effect of female condition on parental care in the European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris).(View abstract as pdf file)

  • Ray, Tyrun. In preparation.  The use of green nesting material by European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) as a possible mechanism to reduce nestling ectoparasites. 

  • Summers, Nancy. In preparation.  Clutch size variation in European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris): a test of Lack's hypothesis. (View abstract as pdf file).

  • McFarlane, Leslie. In preparation. An examination of the Elaeophora schneideri and other diseases of Moose (Alces alces shirasi) in Northern Utah.

  • Dickinson, Jannette. In preparation. Evolution of coloniality in American Avocets.

Undergraduate Research Experience in Biology

The Undergraduate Research Experience in Biology is a program offered through the Departments of Zoology, Microbiology, and Botany.  This program provides support for students to conduct full-time independent research collaboratively with a faculty mentor for ten weeks during the summer.  Students must apply to the program and upon acceptance will be matched with a research mentor.  Students selected for the program receive a stipend ($2500) and a small allowance for research expenses.

Utah Ornithological Society

Students interested in birds should consider joining the Utah Ornithological Society for a nominal fee. 

A membership application can be downloaded from the UOS website



Leslie McFarlane examines a moose as part of her undergraduate thesis research (see left).

The moose is then released following the examination.