Ben Vernasco

Biological Sciences

Ben’s began his scientific career as an undergraduate at Humboldt State University (HSU). He earned his B.S. in Applied Vertebrate Ecology in the Spring of 2013. Prior to graduate school, Ben explored the Western Hemisphere while working various seasonal bird jobs for governmental organizations, universities, and non-governmental organizations.

Ben joined the Moore lab in the Fall of 2014 as a Ph.D. student and is being co-advised by Dr. Brandt Ryder of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. Ben is interested in understanding the proximate mechanisms underlying animal behavior, reproductive success, and survival. His work utilizes a variety of field and lab techniques to study both captive and free-living organisms.

He is currently working on a project investigating the mechanistic links between testosterone, social behavior, and social network structure in wire-tailed manakins.  




Streby, H. M., S. M. Peterson, J. A. Lehman, G. R. Kramer, B. J. Vernasco, and D. E. Andersen (2014). Do digestive contents preclude body mass as a measure of relative condition in nestling songbirds? Wildlife Society Bulletin, 38: 305–310.

Capehart, G. D., C. Escallón, B. J. Vernasco, I. T. Moore, and E. N. Taylor. 2016. No drought about it: Effects of supplemental hydration on the ecology, behavior, and physiology of free-ranging rattlesnakes. Journal of Arid Environments 134:79–86.

Beck, M.L., S. Davies, I.T. Moore, L.A. Schoenle, K. Kerman, B. J. Vernasco , and K.B. Sewall. 2016. Beeswax corticosterone implants produce long-term elevation of plasma corticosterone and influence condition. General and Comparative Endocrinology 233:109-114.

Claunch, N.c., J. Frazier, C. Escallón, B.J. Vernasco , I.T. Moore, and E. Taylor. 2017. Physiological and behavioral effects of exogenous corticosterone in a free-ranging ectotherm. General and Comparative Endocrinology. General and Comparative Endocrinology 248:87-96.

Akcay, C, B. J. Vernasco, M.T. Stanback, I.T. Moore, and F. Bonier. 2016. Do close neighbors increase aggressive interactions and CORT levels in female tree swallows? Poster Presented: 2016 Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Conference, 2016 January 3-7; Portland, Oregon, USA.

 Claunch, N.M.,  M.L. Holding, C. Escallón, B.J. Vernasco, I.T. Moore, E.N. Taylor. 2017. Good vibrations: Assessing the stability of snake venom composition after researcher-induced disturbance in the laboratory, Toxicon 133:127-135.

Vernasco, B.J., T.S. Sillet, P.P. Marra, and T.B. Ryder. Environmental predictors of  fledging condition, movement, and survival in a long-distance migratory bird, the Wood Thrush. The Auk. In Press.