Naima C. Starkloff, Ph.D.

Ornithology & disease ecology



I completed my Ph.D. in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Albany, SUNY in the Turner Lab. I am also an ornithology research fellow at the New York State Museum, co-advised by Dr. Jeremy Kirchman. I investigate the spatial patterns, diversity, and phylogenetics of avian malaria parasites in a clade of Catharus thrushes. In addition, I evaluate host immunogenetics in response to these parasite dynamics.

It has been a long road honing in on this system. I have also studied bird biogeography, community diversity, phenological asynchrony, and acoustic behavior. Before my avian days, I did research projects on monkey behavior, snail sexual selection, and elephant movement ecology.


My Research

Catharus thrushes + avian malaria


Ecological gradients of parasitism

Like all organisms, the range and niche of an endoparasite are limited by ecological constraints. These types of parasites, however, are also subject to the limits of their hosts and vectors. I evaluate how malarial parasite prevalence, diversity, and phylogenetic clustering varies with latitude and altitude, as well as species of host.

Host immunogenetics + parasitism

Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes are incredible diverse in vertebrates. Their diversity has been associated with immunity. I evaluate patterns between MHC genes and parasite prevalence patterns.

Parasite spillover in sister host species

Can malarial parasites prevent two recently diverged thrush species from occupying overlapping geographic ranges? I investigate if parasite spillover could be taking place at the range boundary of two closely related thrushes.
Image from Eastern Ontario Birding.




FitzGerald, A.M., Starkloff, N.C. & Kirchman, J.J. 

Ecosphere (9(12), e02496)


Pulgarin-R, P.C., Gomez, C., Bayly, J.B., Bensch, S., Fitzgerald, A., Starkloff, N… & Cadena, D.

Journal of Biogeography (46(1), 83-96)


Swart, E., Starkloff, N., Ypenburg, S., Ellers, J., van Straalen, N. & Koene, J.M

Journal of Invertebrate Biology (e12275.)

Drivers of community turnover differ between avian haemoparasite genera along a North American latitudinal gradient.

(In press)

Starkloff, N.C., Jones, A.W., Winger, B.M., Y.H. Huang, P.C. Pulgarin-R, Turner, W.C. & Kirchman, J.J.

Ecology & Evolution

Parasite community structure, host phylogeny and elevational gradients: Haemoparasites in Catharus thrushes

(in review)

Starkloff, N.C., Turner, W.C., Fitzgerald, A.M., Oftedal, M.C., Martinsen, E., and Kirchman, J.J.

Haemosporidian infection across the parapatric range boundary of sister species of North American birds.

(in prep)

Starkloff, N.C. & Galen, S.C.

Geographic variation in malarial parasite and MHC diversity in a clade of Catharus thrushes.

(in prep)

Starkloff, N.C., Kirchman, J.J., Sammons, M.A., Turner, W.C.

Events of 2019


9th March

New York State Museum, Albany, NY


UAlbany Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Seminar

1 March

Biology 248, Uptown Campus
Immunogenetics in Birds


Ecology & Evolution of Infectious Diseases


Princeton, NJ

Contact Me

Thanks for your interest in my research. Feel free to write with any questions or collaborative ideas. I am happy to hear from you.


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