Back to Top

Claire W.V. Ramos Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Biology

Claire W.V. Ramos Ph.D.

Research Interests

I am interested in the impacts on environmental contaminants on birds. Currently, I am investigating mercury contamination in songbird populations along Fountain Creek. Terrestrial birds adjacent to contaminated waterways can have similar levels of mercury accumulation to birds eating fish directly from the aquatic ecosystem. However, there is a large amount of variation in the exposure levels both within and between species. I am examining the ecological, behavioral, and molecular factors that influence inter- and intra-specific variation in bioaccumulation of mercury. I am also interested in the impacts that neurotoxins like mercury have on bird behavior. In particular, I am currently examining the effects of developmental mercury exposure on song learning in passerine birds.


Varian-Ramos, C.W., J.P. Swaddle, & D.A. Cristol. 2014. Mercury reduces avian reproductive success and imposes selection: an experimental study with adult- or lifetime-exposure in zebra finch. PLOS ONE. 9: 1-9.

Moore, C.S., D.S. Cristol, C.W. Varian-Ramos, & E.L. Bradley. 2014. Lifelong exposure to methylmercury disrupts stress-induced corticosterone response in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). Environmental Science & Technology. 33: 1072-1076.

Varian-Ramos, C.W., J.P. Swaddle, & D.A. Cristol. 2013. Genetic variation in the effects of mercury on reproduction in zebra finches. Environmental Pollution. 183: 316-323.

Murray, J.R., C.W. Varian-Ramos, Z.S. Welch, & M.S. Saha. 2013. Embryological staging of the zebra finch, Taeniopygia guttata. Journal of Morphology. 274: 1090-1110.

Lewis, C.A., D.A. Cristol, J.P. Swaddle, C.W. Varian-Ramos & P.X. Zwollo. 2013. Reduced immune response in zebra finches exposed to sublethal doses of mercury. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. 64: 327-336.

Varian-Ramos, C.W. & M.S. Webster. 2012. Extra-pair copulations reduce inbreeding for female red-backed fairy-wrens. Animal Behaviour. 83: 857-864.

Varian-Ramos, C.W., W.R. Lindsay, J. Karubian, & M.S. Webster. 2012. Female red-backed fairy-wrens (Malurus melanocephalus) do not appear to pay a cost for high rates of promiscuity Auk. 129: 529-536. (Editor's Choice Featured Paper)

Bouland, A.J., A.E. White, K.P. Lonabaugh, C.W. Varian-Ramos, & D.A. Cristol. 2012. Female-biased offspring sex ratios in birds at a mercury-contaminated river. Journal of Avian Biology. 43: 244-251.

Cristol, D.A., E.K. Mojica, C.W. Varian-Ramos, & B.D. Watts. 2012. Molted feathers indicate low mercury in bald eagles of the Chesapeake Bay, USA. Ecological Indicators. 18: 20-24.

Cristol, D.A., L. Savoy, D. Evers, C. Perkins, R. Taylor, & C.W Varian-Ramos. 2012. Mercury in waterfowl from a contaminated river in Virginia. Journal of Wildlife Management. 76: 1617-1624.

Varian-Ramos, C.W., A.M. Condon, K.K. Hallinger, K.A. Carlson-Drexler, & D.A. Cristol. 2011. Stability of mercury concentrations in stored blood samples. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. 86: 159-162.

Cristol, D.A., F. Smith, C.W. Varian-Ramos, & B.D Watts. 2011. Mercury levels of Nelson's and Saltmarsh Sparrows at wintering grounds in Virginia, USA. Ecotoxicology. 20: 1773-1779.

Varian-Ramos, C.W., J. Karubian, V. Talbott, I. Tapia, & M.S. Webster. 2010. Offspring sex ratios reflect a lack of repayment by auxiliary males in a cooperatively breeding passerine. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 64: 967-977.

Lindsay, W.R., M.S. Webster, C.W. Varian, & H. Schwabl. 2009. Plumage colour acquisition and behaviour are associated with androgens in a phenotypically plastic tropical bird. Animal Behaviour 77: 1525-1532.

Karubian, J., J.P. Swaddle, C.W. Varian, & M.S. Webster. 2009. The relative importance of male tail length and nuptial plumage on social dominance and mate choice in the red-backed fairy-wren Malurus melanocephalus: evidence for the multiple receiver hypothesis. Journal of Avian Biology 40: 559-568.

Webster, M.S., C.W. Varian, & J. Karubian. 2008. Plumage color and reproduction in the red-backed fairy-wren: Why be a dull breeder? Behavioral Ecology 19: 517-524

Back to Top