Behavioral ecology and bioacoustics lab
Our laboratory studies animal behavior with a focus on social behavior, communication and cognition. We use field behavioral ecology and laboratory experiments with captive animals to study the form and function of communication signals, mechanisms that enforce reliability in signaling systems, and the role that cognitive abilities such as learning and memory play in sexual signaling and mate choice.
We use the vocal behaviors of songbirds as a model system for much of this work, but we study signal production and perception in other animals, including humans.
Our approach is interdisciplinary and collaborative, combining operant conditioning, tests of cognitive performance, field observation and experimentation, digital signal analysis and synthesis, and hormone and other physiological manipulations. Currently we are expanding the scope of our work to include proximate mechanisms of behavioral regulation, including endocrinological mediators of aggression and stress responsiveness, to understand the evolution of social behavior and communication systems.