Robert A. Askins

Robert A. Askins

Katharine Blunt Professor Emeritus of Biology

Joined Connecticut College: 1981-2018

B.S., University of Michigan
M.S., Ph.D., University of Minnesota


Ecology, ornithology

Impact of forest fragmentation on natural communities

Ecology of early successional birds

Conservation biology

Robert Askins is retired but he has remained active in research on the ecology of birds. He taught courses in ornithology, animal behavior, ecology and conservation biology at the Connecticut College from 1981 to 2018. He is nationally recognized for his research of the ecology of migratory birds and the impact of forest fragmentation on their populations.

In both his teaching and research, Askins engages in synthesizing ideas from ecology, animal behavior and evolution to understand how natural ecosystems work. He also draws on historical accounts and archaeological results to interpret the recent history of ecosystems. He applies this perspective to understanding the ecology of migratory songbirds.

With help from undergraduate students, Askins completed field studies of migratory birds in both their nesting areas in Connecticut and Japan, and their winter habitats in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He also studied the ecology of early successional birds in Connecticut.

His findings have been published in Wilson Journal of Ornithology, Science, Condor, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Biotropica, Wetlands, Conservation Biology, PLoS One and other journals. He also wrote two books: one on conservation of birds in North America ("Restoring North America's Birds; Lessons from Landscape Ecology." Yale Press, 2000), and another on the ecology of the world's northern hardwood forests ("Savings the World's Deciduous Forests." Yale Press, 2014.)  After retirement he has continued to study birds in the West Indies and published scientific papers on the impact of hurricanes on birds in The Bahamas and the Virgin Islands. A complete list of his publications is included here.

Askins was the recipient of the Connecticut College 2010 Helen Brooks Regan Faculty Leadership Award and the 2001 Nancy Batson Nisbet Rash Research Scholar Award.

Askins also received grants from the U.S. National Park Service, National Geographic Society, the U.S. Forest Service and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. He has presented his papers at scientific meetings in the United States and abroad.

Askins served on the board of Audubon Connecticut and is a fellow at the American Ornithologists' Union. He also served as director of the Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment, an interdisciplinary academic center that coordinates environmental programs at Connecticut College. 

Click to view Robert's Publications

View the biology department website.

Majoring in Biology. 

I have been working with undergraduates on research on the ecology of migratory songbirds. Our goal is to identify the minimum requirements for sustaining their populations. In this effort, I see no boundaries between teaching and research, or between research and conservation planning.

Robert Askins

Contact Robert A. Askins

Mailing Address

Robert A. Askins
Connecticut College
Box #5461
270 Mohegan Ave.
New London, CT 06320