The house sparrow in the service of basic and applied biology

Haley E. Hanson, Noreen S. Mathews, Mark E. Hauber, Lynn B. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


From the northernmost tip of Scandinavia to the southernmost corner of Patagonia, and across six continents, house sparrows (Passer domesticus) inhabit most human-modified habitats of the globe. With over 7,000 articles published, the species has become a workhorse for not only the study of self-urbanized wildlife, but also for understanding life history and body size evolution, sexual selection and many other biological phenomena. Traditionally, house sparrows were studied for their adaptations to local biotic and climatic conditions, but more recently, the species has come to serve as a focus for studies seeking to reveal the genomic, epigenetic and physiological underpinnings of success among invasive vertebrate species. Here, we review the natural history of house sparrows, highlight what the study of these birds has meant to bioscience generally, and describe the many resources available for future work on this species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere52803
StatePublished - Apr 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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