Nicole Odell, PhD
PhD in Animal Behavior, University of California, Davis. 2008
MS in Animal Behavior, University of California, Davis. 2005
BS in Biology, University of Scranton, Scranton, PA. 2003

nicole odellNicole Odell received her PhD in Animal Behavior at UC Davis in 2008 with a dissertation entitled, "Female reproductive investment in a conspecific brood parasite" [Also available online - restricted to UC campuses]. She is now an educator at Presentation High School in San Jose, CA.


Waterfowl have intrigued Nicole ever since she held her first duckling at the age of three. Her interest was fostered and encouraged throughout her adolescence by being active in 4-H and holding leadership roles in the Poultry program.  When it came time to go to college, biology was an easy choice. She was fortunate to gain research experience with bats with her advisor, Dr. Kwicienski, and with the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates Program (NSF REU).  During this program, Nicole worked closely with Dr. DeeAnn Reeder, a graduate of the University of California, Davis.  She introduced Nicole to the use of hormones in understanding behavior and to the Animal Behavior Graduate Group at Davis.

odellIn 2003, Nicole graduated cum laude from The University of Scranton with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and a concentration in Environmental Studies. At this point, Nicole wanted to find a program where she could study waterfowl and feel at home as both a waterfowl enthusiast and as a hunter. UC Davis was a natural choice for her with its Animal Behavior Program and its excellent waterfowl program. Nicole entered graduate school in fall 2003 after working for John Eadie and the California Waterfowl Association during the summer entering data for the California Wood Duck Project. During her first year of graduate school, she became intrigued with the proximate mechanisms of brood parasitism in the Wood Duck, Aix sponsa.  Brood parasitism is a fascinating behavior where a female lays her eggs in another female’s nest, leaving that female the cost of incubating and raising the ducklings. She started wondering (1) why females choose a particular nest to parasitize and (2) how females successfully parasitize a nest. Nicole's dissertation project investigated both of these questions, concentrating on how females successfully parasitize a nest. Read more about her project: Investigating brood parasitism in wood ducks.


  • Monitoring incubation constancy in incubating females using HoboTemps
  • Cues used by females in choosing a nest to parasitize
  • Pilot study of duckling behavior
  • DNA work


The UC Davis Wood Duck Project was developed to ensure that Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology majors received practical field experience to better equip them for getting a job after graduation. During Nicole's time at UCD, 2004-2007, she ran the Internship project and supervised over 50 interns. Her role in the project was to manage, plan, and instruct future biologists in field research. In return, Nicole gained valuable field assistants that ensured the success of her project. In addition, during her tenure, the variety of majors that interns have come from expanded from WFCB majors to Evolution and Ecology students, Agricultural students, Avian Science students, and many others. These students are listed on the undergraduate students page.


Odell, N.S., Y. Sazuko, and J.M. Eadie. 2009. Environmental Correlates of Incubation Behavior in the Wood Duck (Aix sponsa).  In prep for submission to the Auk.

Odell, N.S., J.M. Eadie, L. Reichart, and H. Schwabl.  2009.  Maternal Effects in the Wood Duck: Yolk Hormonal Investment and Hatch Synchrony.  In prep for submission to Hormones and Behavior.

Odell, N.S. and J.M. Eadie.  2009.  Do Wood Ducks use the quantity of eggs in a nest as a cue to the prospective value of a nest?  Accepted to Behavioral Ecology.

Roy, C., J.M. Eadie, E.M. Schauber, N.S. Odell, E.C. Berg, and T. Moore. 2009. Public information and conspecific nest parasitism in wood ducks: does nest density influence quality of information?  Animal Behaviour. 77: 1367-1373.  (Featured article, see In Focus, Animal Behaviour 77: 1365)

Reeder, D.M., N.S. Kosteczko, T.H. Kunz, and E.P. Widmaier. 2006. The hormonal and behavioral response to group formation, seasonal changes, and restraint stress in the highly social Malayan Flying Fox (Pteropus vampyrus) and the less social Little Golden-mantled Flying Fox (P. pumilus)(Chiroptera: Pteropodidae). Hormones and Behavior, 49: 484-500.

Reeder, D. M., N. S. Kosteczko, T. H. Kunz, and E. P. Widmaier. 2004. Changes in baseline and stress-induced glucocorticoid levels during the active period in free-ranging male and female little brown myotis, Myotis lucifugus (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae). General and Comparative Endocrinology, 136: 260-269.


*Odell, N.S. and J.M. Eadie. 2007. Do Wood Ducks Count? Poster Presentation at the annual Animal Behavior Society Conference. Burlington, VT.

*Kosteczko, N.S. and J.M. Eadie. 2006. Physiological and perceptual aspects of brood parasitism in the Wood Duck (Aix sponsa). Poster presentation at the 4th North American Duck Symposium. Bismarck, ND.

*Kosteczko, N.S. and J.M. Eadie. 2006. Cross-Generational Influences of Hormones in the Wood Duck. Presentation at the Delta Waterfowl 2006 Research Conference.

*Roy Nielsen, C. L., J.M. Eadie, N.S. Kosteczko, E. Berg, and T. Moore. 2006. Is philopatry blind? The role of public and private information in wood duck nest site selection. Presented at the annual meeting of the Animal Behavior Society. Snowbird, UT.

*Kosteczko, N.S. and J.M. Eadie. 2005. Incubation and Development in the Wood Duck. Presented at the 2005 University of California, Davis Animal Behavior Graduate Group Symposium.

*Reeder, D.M., N.S. Kosteczko, T.H. Kunz, and E.P. Widmaier. 2003. Baseline and Stress-Induced Glucocorticoid Hormone Levels in Free-Ranging Little Brown Myotis (Myotis lucifugus) During the Active Period. Presented at the 2003 annual North American Symposium for Bat Research.

*Reeder, D.M., N.S. Kosteczko, T.H. Kunz, and E.P. Widmaier. 2003. Changes in baseline and stress induced glucocorticoid levels during the active period in free-ranging male and female little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus). American Society of Mammalogists Meeting 2003.

*Kosteczko, N.S., D.M. Reeder, and T.H. Kunz. 2002. Social Preferences and Sociability of the Solitary Little Golden-mantled Flying Fox (Pteropus pumilus) and the Social Island Flying Fox (P. hypomelanus). Presented at the annual North American Symposium for Bat Research.

*LeBlanc, D., D.M. Reeder, N.S. Kosteczko. 2002. Individual Marking of Captive Flying Foxes for Behavioral Observations. Presented at the annual North American Symposium for Bat Research.



  • National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant (2007)
  • Selma Herr Fund for Ornithological Research (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007)
  • Animal Behavior Graduate Group Block Grant (2004, 2005, 2007)
  • Jastro-Shields Graduate Research Grant (2004, 2005, 2006)
  • Delta Waterfowl Foundation Grant (2005-08)
  • NSF Graduate Fellowship Honorable Mention (2003, 2004, 2005)
  • Charles E. Penney Memorial Scholarship (2004)
  • Univ. of California-Davis Non-Resident Tuition Grant (2003)
Revised September 22, 2009