Academic Collaborators

Invitation to collaborate


We are currently seeking SparrowNet collaborators.Photo: Isabel Winney (sparrows on a wire)

Our aim is to build a network of house sparrow study populations that will be established through a collaborative network of colleagues across Australia and New Zealand.

In the first instance, we will wish to put together a “core team” who will provide input into the development of a broad research protocol and framework that addresses the needs of the currently funded project and identifies additional questions, to be pursued in the short and long-term. This core team will be enthusiastic about the outcomes and opportunities the project can achieve and will help to establish infrastructure and processes.  Borer et al (2014) have recently provided an excellent model for the development of collaborative ecological projects, including considerations of design, goals and network function.

Network members will assist in the establishment and maintenance of nest box populations, and contribute to the core database maintained at Macquarie University in Sydney by gathering data on multiple house sparrow populations in a standardized way. The research sites established will provide opportunities for experimental life history manipulations, physiological tracking, behavioural and molecular work. Importantly these populations will provide excellent opportunities for student research and training.

Photo: Griffith (first SparrowNet bird caught)

We believe that highly significant collaborative outcomes can be achieved with relative low levels of investment by network members. This collaborative research network has the potential to answer exciting questions related to:

  • global change biology
  • geographic variation in various aspects of house sparrow biology
  • micro evolution
  • advances and applications in functional genomics
  • population level insights


In Europe and North America significant insight in climate change biology has come from work comparing reproductive data across multiple sites. To our knowledge, no such similar experimental networks on birds exist in Australasia. This is an exciting opportunity to test hypotheses and make standardized observations across the region in an unprecedented large-scale network. Ultimately, given the research focus on the house sparrow in Europe, Africa and the America’s, our research goals can be scaled up to a truly global level.

SparrowNet is currently funded through Future Fellowship funding from the Australian Research Council, and support by Macquarie University.

For more information or to join the network, please email us at


Reference: Borer, E.T., Harpole, W.S., Adler, P.B., Lind, E.M., Orrock, J. L., Seabloom, E. W., Smith, M. D. (2014), Finding generality in ecology: a model for globally distributed experiments. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 5: 65–73. doi: 10.1111/2041-210X.12125