Michael Clinchy

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Department of Biology
University of Victoria
P.O. Box 3020, Station CSC
Victoria, B.C., V8W 3N5

Phone: (250) 658-3325


NSERC PDF, University of Toronto, 2003-2005
Ph.D., University of British Columbia, 1999
M.Sc., Queen's University, 1990
B.Sc., University of Toronto, 1988

Research Interests

Graduate Opportunities

Selected Publications


Research Interests

Current Research

Mammalian predators and prey on islands.

That prey should fear predators seems like such a basic biological fact that a world without
such fear, where the ‘wolf shall dwell with the lamb’, appears mythical.  Yet, a lack of fear
in prey on islands is coming to be accepted as the only commonality that can explain the
devastating effect the introduction of mammalian predators has had on so many species of
island prey all around the globe.  Since the ancestors of island prey all presumably ‘knew’ to
fear predators how could this ability be lost?  Heightened alertness is physiologically costly and
may adversely affect growth and health.  On predator-free islands the benefits of being able to
‘forget’ about predators should thus include improved development and increased longevity. 
My research program represents the first integrated study of whether and how fear, physiology,
growth and longevity vary with the presence and abundance of predators on islands.

The archetypal  mammalian prey - a deer mouse

My work focuses on a model species of mammalian prey, the deer mouse (Peromyscus
maniculatus), on B.C.’s Gulf Islands archipelago, because the large size of mice on these
islands has long been hypothesized to be due to the paucity of predators.  There may now
be more medium-sized mammalian predators, or ‘mesopredators’, such as raccoons
(Procyon lotor) and weasels (Mustela erminea), on these islands, than there were 50-100
years ago, in part because these mesopredators were introduced on many previously
predator-free islands, and because the predators that preyed on them, such as wolves
(Canis lupus), cougars (Puma concolor) and black bears (Ursus americanus), have been
extirpated from most of the Gulf Islands.  My research also addresses: these changes in
the abundance of mesopredators; whether they have begun to ‘forget’ about their
predators; and what effect this has had on their physiology, growth and health.  In addition
to answering fundamental ecological questions, the results from this research will provide
the cornerstone for a planned introduced predator mitigation program for the new
Gulf Islands National Park Reserve.

At work near Saltspring Island

Graduate Opportunities

I am looking for M.Sc. students to work on a variety of projects within the context of my
current major research program.  If you find the kinds of questions my research addresses
compelling, please fill in my Potential Grad Student Questionnaire and forward it to me
(via e-mail) together with a brief (up to 2 page) outline of the kind of research you envisage
conducting in my lab.  Funding  for graduate studies is of course available from NSERC
and this will look best on your future C.V.  There are a wide variety of other
external funding sources, as well as University of Victoria Fellowships ($13,000 M.Sc.).

Selected Publications

Zanette, L., Haydon, D. T., Smith, J. N. M, Taitt, M. J., and Clinchy, M.  2007
     Reassessing the cowbird threat.  Auk, 124: 210-223.

Kempster, B., Zanette, L., Longstaffe, F., MacDougall-Shackleton, S. A., Wingfield,
     J. C., and Clinchy, M.  2007
.  Do stable isotopes reflect nutritional stress?  Results
     from a laboratory experiment on song sparrows.  Oecologia, 151: 365-371.

Zanette, L., Clinchy, M., and Smith, J. N. M.  2006.  Food and predators affect egg
     production in song sparrows.  Ecology, 87: 2459-2467.

Zanette, L., Clinchy, M., and Smith, J. N. M.  2006.  Combined food and predator
     effects on songbird nest survival and annual reproductive success: results from a
     bi-factorial experiment.  Oecologia, 147: 632-640.

Duncan-Rastogi, A., Zanette, L., and Clinchy, M.  2006.  Food availability affects
     diurnal nest predation and adult antipredator behaviour in song sparrows, Melospiza
     melodiaAnimal Behaviour, 72: 933-940.

Zanette, L., MacDougall-Shakleton, E., Clinchy, M., and Smith, J. N. M.  2005.
     Brown-headed cowbirds skew host offspring sex ratios. Ecology, 86: 815-820.

Clinchy, M., Zanette, L., Boonstra, R., Wingfield, J. C., and Smith, J. N. M.  2004.
     Balancing food and predator pressure induces chronic stress in songbirds.  Proceedings
     of the
Royal Society of London, Biological Sciences, 271: 2473-2479.

Clinchy, M., Taylor, A. C., Zanette, L., Krebs, C. J., & Jarman, P. J.  2004.  Body size,
     age and paternity in common brushtail possums.  Molecular Ecology, 13: 195-202.

Zanette, L., Smith, J. N. M., van Oort, H., and Clinchy, M.  2003.  Synergistic effects
     of food and predators on annual reproductive success in song sparrows.  Proceedings
     of the Royal Society of London, Biological Sciences, 270: 799-803.

Clinchy, M., Haydon, D. T., & Smith, A. T.  2002.  Pattern does not equal process:
     what does patch occupancy really tell us about metapopulation dynamics?  The
     American Naturalist
, 159: 351-362.

Clinchy, M., Krebs, C. J., & Jarman, P. J.  2001.  Dispersal sinks and handling effects:
     interpreting the role of immigration in common brushtail possum populations.
     Journal of Animal Ecology, 70: 515-526.

Johnson, C. N., Clinchy, M., Taylor, A. C., Krebs, C. J., Jarman, et al.  2001.
     Adjustment of offspring sex ratios in relation to the availability of resources for
     philopatric offspring in the common brushtail possum.  Proceedings of the
Royal Society of London, Series B, 268: 2001-2005.