About our lab

The Sperry lab studies community-level ecological interactions with a focus on predator - prey dynamics. Most of our recent work has focused on the ecological factors that influence predator-prey interactions between snakes and birds by examining the effects of snake habitat use and seasonal/daily activity patterns on avian nest predation risk. Our research is expanding to explore other facets of community ecology including competition, mutualistic networks, the ecological roles of invasive species, and translocation science and facilitated movement of reptiles and amphibians.

Dr. Sperry and Dr. DeGregorio are adjunct professors at the University of Illinois in the Natural Resources and Environmental Science department. They are also full time wildlife biologists for the Engineer Research and Development Center of the Army Corps of Engineers (ERDC-CERL) located in Champaign, IL. Patrick J. Weatherhead was a founding member of the lab but is now enjoying the retired life. A full list of his publications can be found HERE


Contact us

If you are interested in joining the Sperry - DeGregorio lab
as an undergraduate or graduate student
please email
Jinelle Sperry at: Jinelle.Sperry@usace.army.mil
Brett DeGregorio at: Brett.A.DeGregorio@usace.army.mil

We are located in S-506 Turner Hall on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus.

Highlighted publications

DeGregorio, B.A., S.J. Chiavacci, T.J. Benson, J.H. Sperry, and P.J. Weatherhead. 2016. Nest predators of North American birds: continental patterns and implications. Bioscience 66: 655-665.PDF

DeGregorio, B.A., J.H. Sperry, and P.J. Weatherhead. 2015. Wait until dark? Daily activity patterns and nest predation by snakes. Ethology: 121: 1225-1234.PDF

Buxton, V.L., M.P. Ward, and J.H. Sperry. 2015. Use of chorus sounds for location of breeding habitat in 2 species of anuran amphibian. Behavioral Ecology 26: 1011-1018. PDF

DeGregorio, B.A., J.D. Westervelt, P.J. Weatherhead, and J.H. Sperry. 2015. Indirect effect of climate change: shifts in ratsnake behavior alter timing and intensity of nest predation. Ecological Modelling 312: 239-246. PDF

Dittmar, E.M., D.A. Cimprich, J.H. Sperry, and P.J. Weatherhead. 2014. Habitat selection by juvenile black-capped vireos following independence from parental care. Journal of Wildlife Management 78: 1005-1011. PDF

DeGregorio, B.A., P.J. Weatherhead, and J.H. Sperry. 2014. Powerlines, roads, and nest survival: effects on predator identity and predation intensity. Ecology and Evolution 4: 1589-1600. PDF

DeGregorio, B.A., S.J. Chiavacci, P.J. Weatherhead, J.D. Willson, T.J. Benson, and J.H. Sperry. 2014. Snake predation of North American bird nests: culprits, patterns, and future directions. Journal of Avian Biology 45: 325-333. PDF

DeGregorio, B.A., J.H. Sperry, D.P. Valente, and P.J. Weatherhed. 2014. Facultative nocturnal behaviour in snakes: experimental examination of why and how with ratsnakes and racers. Canadian Journal of Zoology 93: 229-237. PDF