Kevin J. McGraw

Professor; Director, School of Life Sciences Undergraduate Research Program
Kevin McGraw
Phone: (480) 965-5518, Lab: (480) 965-2593
Office: LSC 522
Education: PhD, 2003, Cornell University
Curriculum Vitae: PDF icon McGrawCV_30Jan15.pdf

Kevin McGraw is an integrative behavioral ecologist who primarily studies the colors of animals such as birds to understand the costs, benefits and evolution of visual signals. He and his students use a variety of approaches from fields including biochemistry, nutrition, physiology, immunology and endocrinology to determine what factors control color intensity. They couple these approaches with behavioral, ecological and evolutionary studies, both in the field and the lab, to evaluate how and why animal colors function in visual communication.

McGraw and his team's interests continue to expand to include diverse avian groups (e.g. penguins, hummingbirds, parrots) and other colorful creatures such as spiders, lizards, and butterflies. Their studies of colors and pigments span all of Tinbergen’s levels of analysis, including adaptive, developmental, and evolutionary aspects.

Select Publications

  • Giraudeau, M., P. M. Nolan, C. Black, S. Earl, M. Hasegawa, and K. J. McGraw. 2014. Song characteristics track bill morphology along a gradient of urbanization in house finches. Frontiers in Zool. 11:83.
  • Thomas, D. B., K. J. McGraw, M. W. Butler, M. Carrano, O. Madden, and H. F. James. 2014. Ancient origins and multiple appearances of carotenoid-pigmented feathers in birds. Proc. Soc. Lond. B 282:20140806.
  • Giraudeau, M., and K. J. McGraw. 2014. Physiological correlates of urbanization in a desert songbird. Integr. Comp. Biol. 54:622-632.
  • Hasegawa, M., R. A. Ligon, M. Giraudeau, M. Watanabe, and K. J. McGraw. 2014. Urban and colorful male house finches are less aggressive. Behav. Ecol. 25:641-649.
  • Giraudeau, M., M. Mousel, S. Earl, and K. J. McGraw. 2014. Parasites in the city: degree of urbanization predicts poxvirus and coccidian infections in house finches (Haemorhous mexicanus). PLOS One 9:e86747.
  • Ligon, R. A. and K. J. McGraw. 2013. Chameleons communicate with complex colour change during contests: different body regions convey different information. Biology Letters 9:20130892.


  • Animal behavior expert Kevin McGraw appears on The List TV, talking about 'surprisingly deadly animals."
  • Animal behavior expert Kevin McGraw appears on The List TV, discussing tech companies' secret weapons — animal characteristics.

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