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Bird song research

The image you clicked is a graphical representation of a red-backed fairy-wren song. Humans have long appreciated the myriad sounds, colorful displays, elaborate movements and complex scents produced by plants and animals, though they differ greatly from our own communications. These signals mediate social interactions that determine if an individual survives and reproduces, and this selection ultimately determines how signal traits evolve. For my PhD and postdoctoral research, I studied avian vocal communication with the goal of understanding how an animal’s signals evolve in response to its social and physical environment.

My research on the song function of the Red-backed Fairy-wren investigated how the birds use vocal duets in different social contexts. This species sings an unusual, overlapping duet that they use to mediate territory interactions with neighbors and lay claim to certain areas for foraging and nesting. In addition to using duets to defend territories, male birds also use duets and other behaviors to mediate breeding interactions, in a way that depends on the social environment each individual male experiences, and these strategies directly affect their reproductive success. Find links to my articles on these topics in my CV.

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