Jeff Podos is a Professor in the Department of Biology at UMass, and presently serves as Graduate Program Director for the Organismic and Evolutionary Biology (OEB) graduate program. His research focuses on vocal behavior and evolution in songbirds, and has active research projects in the US, Ecuador, and Brazil. Click on the "research" tab above to read more about Jeff's research. Most every fall Jeff teaches an upper-level majors class in Animal Behavior, and most every spring he team-teaches a non-majors, general education course on the Biology of Social Issues. In recent years Jeff has served on the editorial boards of two journals, Animal Behaviour and Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology, and recently completed a stint on the Executive Committee of the Animal Behavior Society. Bonus reading: * How I got tenure * Mate Choice Copying * PhD Cartoon Contest * Cooleyville Road
Dana Moseley's research interests lie broadly in evolution and animal behavior. Specifically, she aims to understand how males indicate threat and how females develop their mating preferences. To do this, she focuses on the Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana), a species in which females have been shown to prefer songs with high levels of vocal performance, i.e. with comparatively high trill rates and broad frequency bandwidths. Thus, sexual selection by females is hypothesized to push these vocal features to individual performance limits. In her research she uses sound analysis software to manipulate trill rates of recorded songs beyond their natural ranges, in order to test questions about sexual selection and learning. Dana's website
Dave Hof's research interests center around the evolution of animal communication, and in particular the information contained in animal signals. To do this, he has focused thus far on how animals settle disputes through the use of communication. HIs research addresses two broad questions (i) is reliable information transferred during antagonistic interactions despite strong incentives for bluffing that would allow animals to gain resources they might otherwise lose through actual fighting (ii) if reliable information is transferred, what prevents animals from bluffing. He has been addressing these questions with respect to vocal communication in a group of migratory songbirds, the wood-warblers, focusing on one species, the black-throated blue warbler. Male warblers compete intensely over territorial resources and mates, and use song to mediate conflicts. In order to infer the information content of vocal signals used during disputes he is incorporating both observational and experimental approaches.
Jesse McClure is interested in foraging theory, particularly variance-sensitive (formerly risk-sensitive) foraging where an organism faces choices between resource options that may be similar on average though one is stable while the other varies widely. Variance-sensitive foraging has also had productive research on the level of proximate cause or mechanism. In the past decade or two there have been productive exchanges between behavioral ecology and cognitive sciences leading to an understanding of how animals assess rates and quanities of food, 'calculate' the mean and/or variability, and choose between the available options. Jesse's website
Sarah Goodwin’s research interests are broadly in sexual selection and communication, specifically male and female behavior when eavesdropping is possible. From the male’s perspective, she works on questions of territory choice and tenure when multiple individuals are within signaling range of each other, and coalition forming for territory defense. From the female’s perspective, she investigates how females evaluate prospective mates when there are multiple options, and what sorts of decision rules females use. She works with Chipping Sparrows (Spizella passerina) in Western MA. Sarah's website (includes cv and reprints)
Amy Strauss joined the Podos lab in Fall 2013. She hopes to pursue research on the evolution of complexity and diversity in songbird vocal behavior, looking specifically at the role that ecological factors play in shaping avian communication systems. During her undergraduate career at Whitman College, she performed research examining the effects of habitat on geographic patterns of song sharing in Dickcissels (Spiza americana) with Dr. Tim Parker. Prior to joining the Organismic and Evolutionary Biology (OEB) graduate program here at UMass, Amy worked in the Division of Vertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH).