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Ken Yasukawa

Ken YasukawaKen Yasukawa

Professor of Biology
Office: Center for the Sciences Room 335
Phone: 608 363-2314


Ken Yasukawa is Mead Family Professor of Science in the Biology Department and assistant coach of the varsity volleyball team at Beloit College. He is a behavioral ecologist with over 50 published journal articles and a dozen book chapters on avian mating systems, sexual selection, territoriality, vocal and visual communication, parental care, brood parasitism, and other topics. He and William A. Searcy co-authored Polygyny and Sexual Selection in Red-winged Blackbirds (Princeton University Press, 1995) and the Birds of North America species account of the Red-winged Blackbird (American Orinthologists' Union, 1995). He is also interested in science education, having served on the Education Committee of the Animal Behavior Society and edited (with Bonnie Ploger) set of laboratory and field exercises in Animal Behavior (Academic Press, 2003), as well as a three-volume series, Animal Behavior: How and Why Animals Do the Things They Do (Praeger Publishers, 2014). He teaches Zoology, Biometrics, Population Biology, and Animal Behavior, and topics courses in animal communication and behavioral ecology. Ken has worked with students on more than 80 research projects, presented 12 posters and papers with 16 student co-authors at meetings of professional societies, and published 17 articles with 24 student co-authors in peer reviewed journals. He received the Underkofler Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching from the Alliant Corporation, and the Janet Andersen Award for Research with Undergraduates from the Midstates Consortium for Science and Mathematics. He has served on editorial boards of Animal Behaviour, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, Auk, and Current Ornithology, as Editor of the Journal of Field Ornithology, and as President of the Animal Behavior Society. 


  • State University of New York at Stony Brook, 1967–1971, B.S. Biology, 1971
  • State University of New York at Binghamton, 1971–1972, Computer Science
  • Indiana University, Bloomington, 1972–1977, M.A. Zoology, 1975; Ph.D. Zoology, 1977

Positions Held

  • Post-doctoral Fellow, The Rockefeller University, Field Research Center, 1977–1980
  • Assistant Professor, Beloit College, Department of Biology, 1980–1986
  • Associate Professor, Beloit College, Department of Biology, 1986–1990
  • Professor, Beloit College, Department of Biology, 1990–present
  • Visiting Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Zoology, 1991–2009
  • Honorary Fellow, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Zoology, 2009–present
  • Editor, Journal of Field Ornithology, 1990–1995
  • President, Animal Behavior Society, 2004–2005


A fledgling Red-winged Blackbird.
A fledgling Red-winged Blackbird.

Two male Red-winged Blackbirds
Two male Red-winged Blackbirds engaged in
"Bill-up Display" near a territory boundary.

Red-winged Blackbird attacks
A male Red-winged Blackbird attacks Jen Nerat '94 as she weighs a nestling.