Katie Farrell ’25



Project Title

The Carolina Wren in Princeton, New Jersey

I investigated the evolved traits of the Carolina wren, a songbird native to New Jersey that exhibits several unique social behaviors more commonly found in the tropics: monogamous mating with long-term mating pairs; duetting (joint participation in song); and collaborative, year-round territory defense. An understanding of these climate-atypical behaviors and their evolution is critical as the range of the Carolina wren continues to expand northwards, and as the climate continues to change. As part of this study, I tracked the locations and mating habits of several birds of interest, noting especially their chosen nesting sites, their current number of fledglings, and their mating partner. I helped apply color bands to birds, and obtained blood samples from both adults and nestlings. I also photographed specific individuals, which aided identification of individual birds by way of their bands and the presence of radio transmitters on their backs. Working with living subjects was challenging at first but was ultimately an extremely rewarding experience. I learned a number of technical fieldwork skills, and I gained a much more intimate understanding of Princeton’s local ecosystems and the world of evolutionary biology research.

Internship Year


Project Category

Biodiversity and Conservation


Riehl Lab, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University - Princeton, New Jersey


Christina Riehl, Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Trey Hendrix, Ph.D. candidate, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology