Welcome to the Podos lab in the Department of Biology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Our group conducts research at the interface of animal behavior and evolutionary biology, with a particular focus on animal communication. Research projects are conducted in both field and laboratory settings, mainly (but not exclusively) using songbirds as a model system. Current study species include sparrows, swallows, chickadees, warblers, finches, and grassquits. Podos lab members are affiliated with two graduate programs, Organismal and Evolutionary Biology (OEB) and Neuroscience and Behavior (NSB).

Lab News:

-- Sarah Goodwin presented a research seminar on her dissertation work at Stonehill College, hosted by Bronwyn Bleakley -- Nov 2014

-- Jeff presented a research seminar at University of Nevada in Reno, hosted by doctoral student Carrie Branch. A highlight of his trip was accompanying Vladimir Pravosudov and students to their field site in the Tahoe National Forest, and learning more about their amazing ongoing research on mountain chickadee geographic variation and cognition. - Oct 2014.

-- Congratulations to Dave Hof for successfully defending his thesis, "Aggressive Signaling in New World Warblers". That's Dr. Hof to you. A caravan of friends and family made the trip down from Dave's hometown, Keene NH, to enjoy Dave's presentation and take part in the festivities. The cartoon contest winner for Dave's thesis is now posted -- Aug 2014

-- Sarah Goodwin and Jeff both presented papers at the Animal Behavior Society meeting in Princeton NJ. Sarah presented her work "Team of Rivals: alliance formation in a territorial songbird is predicted by vocal signal structure", and Jeff presented a paper entitled: "A new measure of vocal performance: frequency excursion" -- Aug 2014

-- Dana Moseley presented a paper at the Society for the Study of Evolution meeting in Raleigh NC. Her talk was entitled: "Responses to song playback vary with the vocal performance of both signal senders and receivers"-- June 2014

-- Sarah Goodwin and Dana Moseley recently presented papers at the joint meeting of the Association for Field Ornithologists and Wilson Ornithological Society. Sarah presented her chipping sparrow work, "Team of Rivals: alliance formation in a territorial songbird is predicted by vocal signal structure," and was awarded the AFO's best graduate student talk. Dana's paper, "Evidence of innate predispositions and learning of female preferences in swamp sparrows", garnered the Wilson Society's best graduate student talk. A Podos lab sweep! -- June 2014

-- Dana Moseley has accepted a Mellon post-doctoral fellowship at the College of William and Mary, where she will conduct work with John Swaddle and Mark Hinders on projects related to avian ecology and acoustics. Congratulations to Dana! -- May 2014

-- Sarah Goodwin participated in the NESCent Catalysis meeting “Anthropogenic Sensory Stimuli as Drivers of Evolution: A conceptual synthesis and roadmap for an integrated citizen-science research network.” Yep, Sarah got to travel to Durham NC, where she got to enjoy Jeff's old stomping grounds and also sample North Carolina's famous BBQ with former OEBers Mike Rosario and Patrick Green -- Apr 2014

-- Sarah Goodwin's most recent paper, in Biology Letters and coauthored with Jeff, was featured in a New York Times observatory article by Sindya N. Bhanoo: Wimpy Sparrows Welcome Here -- Mar 2014

-- Jesse McClure has been awarded the Vincent Dethier Award by the UMass Neuroscience and Behavior Graduate Program. This award is awarded annually to an NSB graduate student to "honor academic performance, research performance and contributions that enhance the quality of the NSB Program". Congratulations to Jesse on this signficant and prestigious honor! -- Feb 2014

-- Sarah Goodwin has been awarded a student travel grant, to present her work at the 2014 joint meeting of the Association of Field Ornithologists (AFO) and Wilson Ornithological Society (WOS) in Newport RI. Congratulations to Sarah! -- Feb 2014

-- Jeff just returned from 2 action-packed weeks in the Galapagos Islands, where he and other members of Team Pinzones continue their on-going studies of Darwin's finches. This year we were funded not by NSF or NSERC but by Earthwatch, thanks to the hard work and superb organizational skills of Luis Fernando de Leon and Diana Sharpe. Andrew Hendry and Kiyoko Gotanda have documented and offered reflections on this year's trip here and here. Other members of Team Pinzones on-island with Jeff were grizzled team veterans Jaime Chaves and Joost Raeymeakers, and newcomer Sofia Carvajal. - Feb 2014

-- Sarah Goodwin presented a talk on her chickadee research at the third annual UMass Life Sciences Graduate Research Symposium, and was awarded the prize for best talk. Congratulations to Sarah! - Nov 2013

-- Sarah Goodwin presented a paper during the regional meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB)/ Division of Morphology, at Yale's Peabody Museum. Her talk, entitled "Shift of song frequencies in response to masking tones", comprised 5 minutes of unmasked vocal communication with some musings on biomechanical constraints - Oct 2013

-- Jeff presented a plenary seminar in a symposium entitled "Grand Challenges in Communication in Social Communities", at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany. The symposium was organized by the International Max Planck Research School for Organismal Biology (IMPRS), to celebrate the arrival of the new cohort of graduate students. Jeff's visit was hosted by Henrik Brumm - Sept 2013

-- We are pleased to welcome Amy Strauss to the lab. Amy is a new doctoral student in the Organismic and Evolutionary Biology (OEB) graduate program, and plans to conduct research on the evolution of vocal behavior in songbirds - Aug 2013

-- Congratulations to Dana Moseley for successfully defending her thesis, "Vocal performance in songbirds: Territorial defense and the development of male song and female mating preferences". That's Dr. Moseley to you. Here is a photo from the post-thesis party with Podos lab members past and present: (l to r Dana, Dave Hof, David Lahti, Sarah Goodwin, Sarah Huber, Jesse McClure, and Jeff) - Aug 2013

-- Dana Moseley won the Warder Clyde Allee student paper competition, for her presentation "Learning and innate biases guide the development of femate mating preferences" at the 2013 Animal Behavior Society meeting in Boulder Colorado. Congratulations to Dana on this significant honor and accomplishment! Contributed papers at the ABS meeting were also given by Dave Hof ("Escalation of vocal aggressive signals: a sequential playback study") and Jeff Podos ("Ecological speciation and the magic trait scenario") - Aug 2013

-- Sarah Goodwin has been awarded a Dissertation Improvement Grant from the National Science foundation, for her project "Assessment of signals in communication networks." Congratulations to Sarah!- July 2013

-- Dana Moseley has been awarded the OEB graduate program's Outstanding Teaching Assistant for 2012-3. - June 2013

-- Sarah Goodwin has been awarded a UMass Graduate School Dissertation Research Grant, to the tune of $1000. - May 2013

-- Three undergraduate students in Jeff's lab -- Caitlin Descovich O'Hare, Alixandria Flaherty, and Pedro de Siracusa, presented posters at the UMass 2013 Undergraduate Life Science Symposium. Caitlin and Alix's work was sponsored by Dana Moseley, and Pedro's by Dave Hof. Pictured here (l to r) are Dana, Alix, Caitlin, Dave, & Pedro. The posters are now on display outside the lab, come by and check them out! - April 2013

-- Jeff visited David Logue's lab group and the Biology Department at University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez. During the visit Jeff presented a research seminar as part of a UPRM projected funded by the HHMI, "ROLE-MODEL: Undergraduate Science Education Program". Some highlights of the visit included a trip to the Cabo Rojo field site with Logue lab members, and an extended lab meeting in which students presented summaries of research ideas and results. - April 2013

-- Jeff participted in a workshop entitled "Dialectes Humains et Communication Animale" at the GIPSA lab/ Université Stendhal in Grenoble, France. The workshop was organized by Didier Demolin and Jean-Pierre Chevrot, and brought together linguists and animal commuication researchers in search for common ground in the study of vocal variation and dialectology. - Mar 2013

-- The Podos lab welcomes Ana Palmero, a doctoral student from the Canary Islands who will be visiting us for three months. Ana conducts research on evolutionary diversification within a bird species, the spectacled warbler, which ranges from the Mediterranean coastline to the Madeira, Canary Island, and Cape Verde archipelagos. Ana will be studying divergence in morphological, genetic, and vocal characteristics. Her visit is sponsored by the Spanish Ministry of Education. - Jan 2013

-- Dave Hof presented a research talk at the second UMass Life Sciences Graduate Research Symposium. He spoke calmly and gently about aggressive vocal signals and combat in black-throated blue warblers. - Nov 2012

-- Jeff gave two seminar talks at Tulane University, in New Orleans LA (yep, Jeff got to go to New Orleans!). The first talk was part of the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department's seminar series, and was entitled "Galapagos finches and the unfinished business of Charles Darwin". The second talk was given as the Edward Sturtevant Hathaway Lecturer in Natural History, on the topic of "Taking it to the limit: sexual selection and the songs of birds". Jeff's visit was hosted by fellow Nowicki-lab graduate Elizabeth Derryberry and her student Sara Lipshutz. - Nov 2012

-- Much to his surprise, Jeff has been elected as a fellow of the American Ornithologists Union. Apparently the nominating committee was unaware of, among other things, Jeff's embarrassing inability to distinguish grey monjitas (Xolmis cinereus) from chalk-browed mockingbirds (Mimus saturninus). - Sept 2012

-- Dana Moseley presented a research talk ("Female preferences are influenced by early experience and male vocal performance"), and Dave Hof a research poster (""Escalation of aggressive signals in black-throated blue warblers: a sequential playback study") at the North American Ornithological Congress in Vancouver Canada. - Aug 2012.

-- Jeff visited the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte, Natal, Brazil, where he served on the PhD defense committee of Marcos Rossi-Santos, now Dr. Rossi-Santos. While in Natal, Jeff also presented a seminar on Darwin's finches as part of a mini-symposium on Bioacoustics and Behavior, organized by Dr. Flavio Silva. - Aug 2012

-- Jeff spent 5 gull-filled days at Cornell University's Shoals Marine Lab on Appledore Island, Maine, participating as teaching faculty in the course "Field Animal Behavior", together with grizzled course veterans Hal Weeks, Will Kimler, and Holly Nance. - Jun 2012

-- Two UMass undergraduates, Adam Donoghue and Luiza Korobkova, are spending this summer conducting research in the Podos lab, funded by a National Science Foundation "Research Experience for Undergraduates" (REU) supplement to Jeff's current NSF grant. Both are analyzing and quantifying mating displays of blue-black grassquits from our study population in Brasilia, Brazil. - June 2012.

-- Dana Moseley presented an invited paper, "Female preferences are influenced by early experience and male vocal performance," as part of a symposium "Evolution of Communication: A Symposium to Honor R. Haven Wiley", chaired by Marc Naguib and Jordan Price, at the Joint meeting of the Animal Behavior Society and Human Behavior and Evolution Societies in Albuquerque, New Mexico. - June 2012

-- Jeff presented an invited paper, "Evolution of vocal mating signals: Lessons from Neotropical songbirds," as part of a symposium "Sexual Selection in the Neotropics: Celebrating Diversity", chaired by Regina Macedo and Glauco Machado of Brazil, at the Joint meeting of the Animal Behavior Society and Human Behavior and Evolution Societies in Albuquerque, New Mexico - June 2012.

-- Jesse McClure presented a poster "Early adolescent impulsivity predicts late adolescent binge in female rats", describing on his research in Heather Richardson's lab at the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society meeting in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii (June 2012). Yep, you did read it right, Jesse got to go to Hawaii! - June 2012

-- Jesse McClure was a featured speaker at the annual conference of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants in Warwick RI. - Apr 2012

-- Dana Moseley presented a research poster, "The effect of vocal performance on male aggressive responses in swamp sparrows (Melospiza georgiana)", at the Sigma Xi Northeast Regional conference at CUNY, Queens NY . Congratulations to Dana for winning the award for best poster! - Apr 2012

-- Jeff presented research seminars at University of Maine in Orono ME (hosted by Brian Olsen), and in the Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences at UMass (hosted by Pablo Visconti). - Apr 2012.

-- Dana Moseley presented a research talk, "Female preferences are influenced by early experience and male vocal performance", at the Society for Integrative Biology's annual meeting in Charleston SC. - Jan 2012

-- Dave Hof presented a research seminar to faculty and students in the Departamento de Zoologia at the Universidade de Brasilia, Brazil. - Dec 2011.

-- The first UMass Life Sciences Graduate Research Symposium was held and the Podos lab swept the awards -- Dana Moseley for best talk, and Jesse McClure for best poster. Congratulations to Dana & Jesse! - Nov 2011.

-- Dana Moseley presented a research seminar to the faculty and students in the Department of Biology at Central Connecticut State University in New Britian CT. - Nov 2011.

-- Jesse McClure presented a poster, "Risk sensitivity as a test of impulsive choice in rats", at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington DC. - Nov 2011

-- Jeff presented research seminars at Randolph Macon College in Ashland VA (hosted by lab alum Sarah Huber), and Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg VA (hosted by Julie Danner. - Oct 2011

-- Congratulations to Ben Taft for successfully defending his PhD thesis, "The role of dawn song in tree swallows and its place in the diversity of oscine song learning". That's Dr. Taft to you. - Aug 2011

-- Podos lab members presented posters at the Joint meeting of the Animal Behavior Society and the International Ethological Congress in Bloomington Indiana: "The effect of vocal performance on male aggressive responses in swamp sparrows" (Dana Moseley); "Rapid modulation of song frequencies in response to overlapping noise" (Sarah Goodwin); "Within-island song varation in Galapagos finches: discrimination and geographical distance" (Jeff Podos). - July 2011

-- Dave Hof has been awarded a Dissertation Improvement Grant from the National Science foundation, for his project "Aggressive Signaling and Fitness Consequences in a New World Warbler. Congratulations to Dave! - Jun 2011

 

Female medium ground finch (Geospiza fortis) and Opuntia cactus flower. El Garrapatero, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos: