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Carolyn Walsh

B.Sc.(Hons.) Memorial, M.A. Toronto, Ph.D. Memorial

Assistant Professor

Office: SN3089
Phone: (709) 864-4738

Affiliations: Cognitive and Behavioural Ecology

Research Interests

Carolyn Walsh

My research focuses on what I consider the most fascinating area of Psychology and Biology: the interface between every living organism and its environment,¹ or, in other words, Behaviour!

Along with many others, I subscribe to Niko Tinbergen’s “Four Questions” about behaviour as the framework for animal behaviour research. I ask (and, hopefully, answer) questions that range from the proximate to the ultimate causes of behaviour. I see my research as not necessarily being focused on a single species, or taxonomic group (ahem… grant-funding purposes excepted, of course). Rather, I am interested in broader theoretical questions about behaviour, in particular, questions about:

1) reproductive behaviour in birds (Common Murres and European Starlings),

2) the effects of early environments (e.g., bird egg lay order, social experiences in young animals) on the subsequent neural, endocrine, and cognitive development of individuals, and

3) how individual temperament interacts with social experience to influence an individual’s social rank, as well as its performance on learning and memory tasks.

To investigate the latter two areas, I study domestic Yucatan miniature pigs, and domestic dogs.

Work with recent CABE MSc student Amy-Lee Kouwenberg and colleague Dr. Gerard Martin focused on examining whether minipigs show evidence of episodic-like memory. Our paper can be found in Applied Animal Behaviour Science (spoiler alert: they do!).

Collaboration with Dr. Anne Storey on Common Murre breeding behaviour continues in the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve (an Important Bird Area). We are currently co-supervising a CABE MSc student, Linda Takahashi, who is investigating nest relief “decisions” by long-term partners, and Megan Rector, who is videotaping and studying parental feeding and chick-rearing effort in the burrow-nesting puffin.

In collaboration with Dr. Rita Anderson and CABE MSc students Melissa Howse and Elysia Dutton, I have been doing research on the social behaviour of domestic dogs. As a dog enthusiast as well as an empiricist, I find this work very interesting, as there are few studies about the “normal” social behaviour of dogs.

I am always happy to speak to potential graduate students who might share some of my research interests. Be warned, though: my research program involves getting up close and personal with live animals (and, depending on the project, sometimes their brains). Not everyone finds joy in this.

I am most interested in recruiting students who might like to work with dogs (all living as companion animals), pigs (raised in the lab), and with the free-living starlings (nestbox colonies near campus). There might also be some limited opportunities to carry out seabird fieldwork.

Take a look at my papers, conference presentations, and other interests to see if you might want to consider graduate work in my lab at Memorial. Please note that funding and space restraints sometimes make it necessary to turn down some very qualified students. If this happens, whether by me or any other professor, please don’t take it personally- it is very likely our loss!

¹For an eloquent description of the study of animal behaviour, go to:



Refereed Contributions

Au, K.L., Storey, A.E. & Walsh, C.J. (in press). Will the early bird get the mate? Egg lay order influences neural development in the European Starling. Behavioural Brain Research.

Kouwenberg, A-L, Walsh, C.J, Morgan, B.E. & Martin, G.M. (2009). Episodic-like memory in cross-bred Yucatan minipigs (Sus scrofa). Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 16, 165-172.

Walsh, C.J., Ralph, T.M. & Storey, A.E. (2009). Enclosure size and hormonal state affect timing of nest return in female meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 123, 115-124.

Wilhelm, S.I, Walsh, C.J. & Storey, A.E. (2008). Time budgets of Common Murres vary in relation to changes in inshore capelin availability. Condor, 110, 316-324.

Doody, L.M, Wilhelm, S.I, McKay, D.W., Walsh, C.J & Storey, A.E. (2007). The effects of variable foraging conditions on common murre (Uria aalge) corticosterone concentrations and parental provisioning. Hormones and Behaviour, 53, 140-148.

Cameron-McMillan, M.L., Walsh, C.J., Wilhelm, S.I. & Storey, A.E. (2007). Male chicks are more costly to rear than females in a monogamous seabird, the Common Murre. Behavioral Ecology, 18, 81-85.

Walsh, C.J., Wilhelm, S.I., Cameron-MacMillan, M.L. & Storey, A.E. (2006). Extra-pair copulations in female Common Murres: a mate attraction strategy? Behaviour, 143, 1241-1262.

Storey, A.E., Delahunty, K.M., McKay, D.W., Walsh, C.J. & Wilhelm, S.I. (2006). Social and hormonal bases of individual differences in the parental behaviour of birds and mammals. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 60, 235-243.

Moody, A.T., Wilhelm, S.I., Cameron, M.L., Walsh, C.J., & Storey, A.E. (2005). Divorce in Common Murres: relationship to assessment of parental quality. Behavioural Ecology & Sociobiology, 57, 224-230.

Walsh, C.J., Wilhelm, S.I., Stenhouse, I.J. & Storey, A.E. (2001). Social interactions of breeding Common Murres and a Razorbill. The Wilson Bulletin, 113(4), 449-452.

Wilhelm, S.I., Walsh, C.J., Stenhouse, I.J. & Storey, A.E. (2001). A possible Common Guillemot Uria aalge X Razorbill Alca torda hybrid. Atlantic Seabirds, 3, 85-88.

Storey, A.E., Walsh, C.J., Quinton, R.L., & Wynne‑Edwards, K.E. (2000). Hormonal correlates of paternal responsiveness in new and expectant fathers. Evolution and Human Behavior, 21, 79‑95.

Abbott, M.L, Walsh, C.J., Storey, A.E., Stenhouse, I.J., & Harley, C.W. (1999). Hippocampal volume is related to complexity of nesting habitat in Leach's storm‑petrel, a nocturnal procellariiform seabird. Brain, Behavior, & Evolution, 53, 271‑276.

Selected Non-refereed Publications

Storey, A.E. & Walsh, C.J. (to be published 2010). How fathers evolve: a functional analysis. Invited chapter In: Biosocial Research Contributions to Understanding Family Processes and Problems. NY: Springer.

Rector, M.E., Walsh, C.J., McKay, D.W. & Storey, A.E. (2009). Sex differences in corticosterone levels of Atlantic Puffins. Poster presentation at the 79th Meeting of the Cooper Ornithological Society, Tuscon, Arizona, April 2009.

Storey, A.E., Wilhelm, S.I., McKay, D.W., Takahashi, L.S. & Walsh, C.J. (2009). Corticosterone elevation in breeding Common Murres (Uria aalge): stress or adaptive response? Paper presentation at the 79th Meeting of the Cooper Ornithological Society, Tuscon, Arizona, April 2009.

Mian, R., Martin, G., & Walsh, C. (2008). Examination of contextual control of memory and episodic memory. Poster presentation at Canadian Psychological Association 69th Convention, Halifax, NS. June 2008.

Walsh, C.J. & Au, K. L. (2008). Egg order influences neural development in European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). Poster presentation at Animal Behavior Society Conference, Snowbird, Utah, , August 2008.

Kouwenberg, A-L., Walsh, C.J. & Martin, G.M. (2008). Episodic-like memory in crossbed Yucatan mini-pigs (Sus scrofa). Poster presentation at Animal Behavior Society Conference, Snowbird, Utah, , August 2008.

Howse, M., Walsh, C.J. & Anderson, R.E. (2008). Normal social behaviour of domestic dogs (Canis familiaris). Poster presentation at Animal Behavior Society Conference, Snowbird, Utah, , August 2008.

Storey, A.E., Walsh, C.J., Doody, L.M. & Wilhelm, S.I. (2007). Negotiation in Common Murres, a monogamous seabird: how doe birds ‘ask’ their mates to provide more parental care? Animal Behavior Society Conference, Vermont, , July 2007.

Walsh, C.J., Storey, A.E. & Wilhelm, S.I. (2005). Getting to know you: extra-pair copulation as a mate attraction strategy in Common Murres. Poster presentation at the Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour and Cognitive Science, 15th annual meeting, July 14-17, Montreal, Quebec .

Storey, A.E., Wilhelm, S.I., & Walsh, C.J. (2004). Evolution of parental motivation in the Common Murre (Uria aalge). Poster presentation at Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour and Cognitive Science, 14th annual meeting, June 12-14, St. John’s, Newfoundland

Other Interests

The Natural History Society of Newfoundland and Labrador ( )

We are a province-wide organization interested in promoting and protecting the natural values of our beautiful province for all to enjoy.

Important Bird Areas (administered by Nature Canada and Bird Life International)
This educational outreach program has exposed school-aged children and communities to the seabird research carried out in the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, a designated worldwide Important Bird Area (IBA). More information about the IBA & links can be found at

The Alder Institute (
Alder is a not-for-profit collective of people interested in science, art, and media in Newfoundland & Labrador. Visit the website to learn more!

Ruff-Spots Animal Welfare Foundation, Inc. (
Our goal is to raise funds for and awareness of the importance of spaying and neutering our pets, in order to address local pet overpopulation issues.