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  Principal Investigators
SUN Yuehua
+86-10-64807132  /  :+86-10-64807577
Key Laboratory of Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 1Beichen West Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101, P.R. China
Group of Avian Ecology      

I am a biological research leader in the field of ornithology, specializing in avian ecology, behavior, evolutionary biology, and conservation biology. My focus is on studying the origin, evolution, behavior, ecology, and conservation biology of unique birds species in the high-altitude coniferous forests of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. I have served as Vice Chairman of the China Ornithological Society for many years, and chaired the academic committee of four "Chinese Ornithological Conferences" in 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019 to ensure that the conferences were successfully held according to international standards. I was awarded the title of National Outstanding Scientific and Technological Worker in 2016. Additionally, I serve as editor-in-chief of the Chinese Journal of Zoology and editorial board member of several international SCI journals.

I have collaborated extensively with scientists from Germany, Sweden, Norway, Russia, and other countries, leading the major cooperation project funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) "Evolution, Behavior, and Ecology of Forest-Dwelling Birds on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau" from 2006 to 2009. From 2016 to 2020, I led the NSFC International Cooperation Key Project "Mechanism of Habitat Fragmentation on Genetic Diversity of Galliform Birds in the Forests of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau" and several NSFC general projects. As the secretary-general of the organizing committee, I successfully hosted the "23rd International Conference on Conservation Biology" in Beijing in July 2009, which promoted the development of conservation biology research in China.

Research Interests:
  1. Avian behavioral ecology: I conduct long-term field studies on avian behavioral and ecological research, while conducting related laboratory experiments through behavioral and theoretical models. The main experimental object in laboratory is the budgerigar; research topics include sexual selection, personality, learning, and cognition. We designed exquisite experiments on female budgerigar's preference for males who have acquired certain skills, published in the top international academic journal Science, titled "Problem-solving males become more attractive to female budgerigars." Field studies on avian ecology are mainly conducted at the positioning research station in Lianhuashan Nature Reserve in Gansu Province, focusing on species such as Chinese grouse, Chestnut thrush, and Laughingthrush species. Research topics include avian personality and sexual selection, alarm behavior, delayed feather maturity in male birds, brood parasitism, etc., published in high-level international behavioral ecology and evolutionary biology journals, such as Animal Behaviour, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, and Evolution.
  2. Basic ecology and conservation biology of birds: Based on research stations such as Lianhuashan in Gansu, I have long been committed to the ecological protection research of unique birds in the high-altitude coniferous forests of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, focusing on species such as Chinese grouse, Blood pheasant, Sichuan jay, Sichuan wood owl, and Boreal owl. Research topics include landscape genetics of Galliform birds such as Chinese grouse, Blood pheasant under fragmented habitats, dietary habits and habitat protection of hazel grouse, impact of climate change on cold-adapted birds such as Sichuan jay, breeding biology and protection of unique owl species such as Sichuan wood owl using artificial nest boxes, etc. Related papers have been published in international high-level conservation biology journals such as Biological Conservation and ornithology journals such as Auk, Ibis, Journal of Avian Biology and Journal of Ornithology.

Awards and Honors:

Professional Activities:

Research Grants:

Selected Publications:
  1. Chen, J., Zou, Y., Sun, Y.H.*, & ten, C.C. (2019). Problem-solving males become more attractive to female budgerigars. Science, 363(6423), 166-167.
  2. Nan Lyu*, Yeh D J, Lloyd H, Yue-Hua Sun, The significant role of post-pairing male behavior on the evolution of male preferences and female traits. Communications Biology, 2022, 5(1): 1-9
  3. Nan Lyu*, Yunbiao Hu, Jiahua Zhang, Lloyd H, Yue-Hua Sun*, Yi Tao*, Switching costs in stochastic environments drive the emergence of matching behaviour in animal decision-making through the promotion of reward learning strategies. Scientific reports, 2021, 11(1): 1-7
  4. Ying-Qiang Lou, Li-Jun Chen, Yun-Biao Hua, Komdeur J, Yue-Hua Sun*, Nan Lyu*, Animal personality can modulate sexual conflict over offspring provisioning. Animal Behaviour, 2021, 177: 91-97
  5. Jiani Chen*, Lu Chen, Chuan Yan, Zibo Yu, Yuqi Zou, Yue-Hua Sun*, Are cognition and personality related in budgerigars? Current Zoology, 2021. zoab069
  6. Kai, Song; Bin, Gao; Peter, Halvarsson; Yun, Fang; Ying-Xin, Jiang; Yue-Hua, Sun*; Jacob, H?glund;* (2020) Genomic analysis of demographic history and ecological niche modeling in the endangered Chinese Grouse Tetrastes sewerzowi, BMC Genomics, 2020, 21(1):1-9.
  7. Song, Kai; Halvarsson, Peter; Fang, Yun; Barnaby, Jonathan; Germogenov, Nickolai; Sun, Yuehua*; Hoglund, Jacob; (2020) Genetic differentiation in Sichuan jay (Perisoreus internigrans) and its sibling species Siberian jay (P. infaustus), Conservation Genetics, 2020, 21(2): 319-327.
  8. Li, N., Chu, H., Qi, Y., Li, C., Ping, X., Sun, Y.H.*, & Jiang, Z.* (2019). Alpha and beta diversity of birds along elevational vegetation zones on the southern slope of Altai Mountains: Implication for conservation. Global Ecology and Conservation, 19, e00643.
  9. Zhao JM, Yang C, Lou YQ, Shi M, Fang Y & Sun Y-H* (2019) Nesting season, nest age, and disturbance, but not habitat characteristics, affect nest survival of Chinese grouse. Current Zoology 65(3): 1-9.
  10. Shi, M., Fang, Y., Zhao, J.M., Klaus, S., Jiang, Y., Swenson, J.E., & Sun, Y.H.* (2019). Egg laying and incubation rhythm of the Chinese Grouse (Tetrastes sewerzowi) at Lianhuashan, Gansu, China. Avian Research, 10, 23.
  11. Jia CX, Sun YH (2018) Re-nesting in the Blood Pheasant Ithaginis cruentus. Forktail 34: 69-70.
  12. Zhao JM, Fang Y, Lou YQ, Swenson JE, and Sun Y-H* (2018). Brood rearing has an immediate survival cost for female Chinese Grouse Tetrastes sewerzowi. Journal of Ornithology 159:1019-1029.
  13. Lyu N, Servedio MR & Sun Y-H*(2018) Nonadaptive female pursuit of extrapair copulations can evolve through hitchhiking. Ecology & Evolution 2018 Apr; 8(7): 3685–3692.
  14. Liu PF & Sun Y-H* (2018) Sexual size dimorphism and assortative mating in the Plain Laughingthrush (Garrulax davidi concolor). Wilson Journal of Ornithology 130(2): doi:10.1676/16-031.
  15. Chen LJ, Zhe L, Hu YB, Liu PF, Lyu N & Sun Y-H* (2018) The breeding biology of endemic Spectacled Parrotbill (Sinosuthora conspicillatus) in Lianhuashan National Nature Reserve, Gansu Province, China. Avian Research 9.
  16. Zhao QS & Sun YH (2018) Nest-site characteristics and nesting success of the Chestnut Thrush. Ornithological Science 17: 3-9.
  17. Hu Y B. First breeding record of Slaty Bunting Emberiza siemsseni. Forktail, 2016, 32:90-91.
  18. Zhao J M, Han Z M, Sun Y H. Is embryonic hypothermia tolerance common in birds? Biology Letters, 2017, 13(4):20160967.
  19. Hu Y B, Zhao Q S, Lou Y Q, et al. Parental attendance of Chestnut Thrush reduces nest predation during the incubation period: compensation for low nest concealment? Journal of Ornithology, 2017, 158(4):1111-1117.
  20. Lyu N, Servedio M R, Lloyd H, et al. The evolution of post-pairing male mate choice. Evolution, 2017, 71(6):1465-1477.
  21. Lou Y, Shi M, Fang Y, et al. Male vigilance and presence are important for foraging by female Chinese grouse in the pre-incubation period. Wildlife Biology, 2007, 1(2017):wlb.00257.
  22. Zhao, Qing-Shan, Yun-Biao Hu, Peng-Fei Liu, Li-Jun Chen, and Yue-Hua Sun* (2016) Nest Site Choice: A Potential Pathway Linking Personality and Reproductive Success. Animal Behaviour 118: 97–103. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2016.05.017.
  23. Liu P. & Sun Y.* 2016. Sexual size dimorphism and assortative mating in Elliot’s Laughingthrush Trochalopteron elliotii. Ardea 104: 177–181. doi:10.5253/arde.v104i2.a2
  24. 3. Chen, L., Zhu, L., Yang, X., Lyu, N., Liu, Y., Liang, W. and Sun, Y.* (2016) Are egg colors and patterns signs of phylogenetic relatedness in parrotbills? Ornithological Science, 15(2): 119-125.
  25. Lyu, N., Li, J. and Sun, Y.H.* (2016) Can simple songs express useful signals for mate choice?. Avian Research, 7(1): 10.
  26. Zhao Qingshan, and Sun Yuehua* (2016) Behavioral Plasticity Is Not Significantly Associated with Head Volume in a Wild Chestnut Thrush (Turdus rubrocanus) Population. Avian Research 7: 12. doi:10.1186/s40657-016-0048-z.
  27. P?ckert M., Martens J., Sun Y.-H. & Strutzenberger P. & (2016) The phylogenetic relationships of Przevalski’s Finch Urocynchramus pylzowi, the most ancient Tibetan endemic passerine known to date. IBIS (2016), doi: 10.1111/ibi.12382.
  28. Tritsch C., Martens J., Sun YH, Heim W, Strutzenberger P. (2016) Improved sampling at the subspecies level solves a taxonomic dilemma - a case study of two enigmatic Chinese tit species (Aves, Passeriformes, Paridae, Poecile). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution · December 2016, DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2016.12.014.