Pamela C. Rasmussen

Assistant Professor
Assistant Curator

Ph.D., University of Kansas, 1990

317 Museum
Office Telephone: 517-432-0872
Research website

Systematics, Evolutionary Ecology, and Conservation of South Asian and African Birds

My research involves a range of organismal-level projects, including systematics at and near the species level of birds of Asia emphasizing morphological and vocal characters. My current major project, Project AVoCet (Avian Vocalizations Center), will be a global, online database of bird sounds (see I am interested in improving knowledge of avian diversity and distribution patterns to inform conservation efforts. Research that went into preparing a specimen database and maps for Birds of South Asia: the Ripley Guide (Lynx Edicions and the Smithsonian Institution) also led to my involvement in a global hotspots consortium that has resulted in the first database and analyses of global distributions for all birds. Since 1998, co-authors and I have described six Asian bird species new to science. Another collaboration involves research on avian diversity and systematics in the eastern Himalayas, for which we conducted field work in northern Myanmar in 2006. Some of my research involves the applications and reliability of museum specimen data for mapping, taxonomy, and diversity estimation. Our analysis of the largest case of scientific fraud known in ornithology has been profiled in The New Yorker (29 May 2006, pp. 50-61) and reprinted in The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2007 (R. Preston, ed., Houghton Mifflin). To help transmit ornithological museum traditions to a new generation, I train students in bird specimen preparation and other museum techniques. In the area of educational research, I have collaborated on a NSF-CCLI-funded project (to P. Myers, University of Michigan) in which students use the Animal Diversity Website database for inquiry-based analyses of key concepts in organismal biology. I’m involved with Study Abroad programs to Uganda, Madagascar, Antarctica, Malaysia, and Indonesia.


Representative Publications

Svensson, L., R. Prys-Jones, P.C. Rasmussen, and U. Olsson. 2008. Discovery of ten new specimens of large-billed reed warbler Acrocephalus orinus, and new insights into its distributional range. J. Avian Biol. 39: 605-610.

Alström, P., P.C. Rasmussen, U. Olsson, and P. Sundberg. 2008. Species delimitation based on multiple criteria: the Spotted Bush Warbler Bradypterus thoracicus complex (Aves: Megaluridae). Zoological Journal of the Linnaen Society 154: 291-307.

Indrawan, M., P.C. Rasmussen, and Sunarto. 2008. A new white-eye (Zosterops) from the Togian Islands, Sulawesi, Indonesia. Wilson Journal of Ornithology 120: 1-9.

Grenyer, R., C.D.L. Orme, S.F. Jackson, G.H. Thomas, R.G. Davies, T.J. Davies, K.E. Jones, V.A. Olson, R.S. Ridgely, P.C. Rasmussen, T.S. Ding, P.M. Bennett, T.M. Blackburn, K.J. Gaston, J.L. Gittleman, and I.P.F. Owens. 2006. The global distribution and conservation of rare and threatened vertebrates. Nature 444: 93-96.

Johnson, J.A., H.R.L. Lerner, P.C. Rasmussen, & D.P. Mindell. 2006. Systematics within Gyps vultures: a clade at risk. BMC-Evol. Biol. 6: 65.