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Jeffrey F. Kelly

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Jeffrey F. Kelly

Professor of Biology

Corix Chair and Dir.: The Plains Institute


Ph.D., Colorado State University
M.S., Oklahoma State University
B.S., University of Maine
405-325-2440 (Phone)
405-325-7702 (Fax)
OBS 140

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I am part of the Geographical Ecology Group at OU.  My current research interest is in applied Aeroecology; the ecology of life in the air.  

Applied Aeroecology - We are at the cusp of a transition in human history from an empty sky era to a crowded sky era.  We routinely see two-dimensional maps of the spread of urbanization across the landscapes of the world, but we rarely even consider the amount or impact of human incursion into that lower atmosphere (aka aerosphere). Urban development routinely requires permits, land use planning, and water management planning, yet the notion of planning development of the aerosphere never occurs to most of us – or may seem unnecessary if it does – because we assume the sky is an infinite resource.

At the same time, unveiling of new technologies that require access to (or infrastructure in) the atmosphere (e.g., UAS) has become commonplace. We are increasingly dependent upon these innovations for commerce, communication, defense, and transportation. There are also increasing conflicts (1) among industries that require access to the aerosphere and (2) concerns over maintaining the quality of aerial environments and the organisms that live there. These conflicts have begun to challenge our perceptions of the aerosphere as vast, open and empty space. As we begin to realize and accept that we have entered the era of a crowded sky, we anticipate increasing demand for data-driven approaches to its management. To meet this need, we pursue integrated interdisciplinary approach to collecting, analyzing, and interpreting new data streams to inform societal decisions about managing the aerosphere. My lab integrates data that describe the aerosphere, its biodiversity, and our perceptions of these natural resources.

Much of my work has centered on advancing our technological capability to understand seasonal movements so that we can better connect phases of the annual cycles of songbirds. However, I am increasingly interested in understanding migration systems and their response to global change.

Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Training - I am also keenly interest in improving interdisciplinary graduate education in STEM.  I am the lead investigator on an NSF Research Traineeship program.

Aeroecology NRT:

Google Scholar Page:


Selected Publications