Department Chairs:
Mary Garvin
Office hours are 11 am - Noon daily in #A139

Administrative Assistant:
Twila Colley

Department Email:

Phone: (440) 775-8315
Fax: (440) 775-8960

Science Center K123
119 Woodland St.
Oberlin, OH, 44074

Keith Tarvin

Keith Tarvin


Contact Information


Science Center A130
(440) 775-8306

Keith Tarvin

Educational Background

  • Bachelor of Arts, Hendrix College, 1986
  • Master of Science, University Arkansas, 1991
  • Doctor of Philosophy, University South Florida, 1998

Specialties: Ecological and genetic influences of behavior and life history evolution; sexual selection and mate choice; social organization; avian natural history.

I am interested in the way the ecology of individuals influences evolution within populations. Within a population, do some individuals enjoy greater fitness than others? If so, why? Do such fitness descrepancies reflect differences in genetic quality of the individuals, differences in territory quality, differences in competitiveness as a function of age or health, or just the luck of the draw? These interests have led me to study a variety of topics, including sexual selection, social organization, and habitat use.

My current research projects center on sexual selection and mate choice, and how these processes may be influenced by genetics and disease. My primary project is a study of mating strategies in American Goldfinches. The field work for this project takes place near Oberlin in the summer, and lab work continues throughout the year. Several research students have participated in this work. For more information about the goldfinch project, go here. For the past few years, I have been involved in a study of sexual selection, mating strategies, and social organization in Australian fairy-wrens with colleagues from the University of Chicago, Washington State University, and Indiana State University (for more, go here). I also occasionally collaborate with Mary Garvin, also in the Oberlin Biology Department, on studies of viral infections and habitat use in Blue Jays (go here).