Department of
Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior

Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior News

New faculty member launches career in LAS

Nearly 20 new faculty have joined the College of LAS this fall, with their research and teaching interests ranging from African American religious diversity to the human brain and the role of law during periods of crisis. Daniel Miller is a new faculty member in the Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior

Yellow warblers remember warning calls 1 day later, suggesting long-term memory

Females spend more time at nest after hearing cowbird alarm

Across North America, hundreds of bird species waste time and energy raising chicks that aren’t their own. They’re the victims of a “brood parasite” called the cowbird, which adds its own egg to their clutch, tricking another species into raising its offspring.

Can parental care influence sperm-mediated effects in threespine sticklebacks?

Animals can influence their offspring through multiple signals starting from fertilization to after birth. However, researchers have seldom looked at how these different signals work together to influence behavior. In a new study, postdoctoral researcher Jennifer Hellmann in the Bell Lab investigated how changes in sperm and paternal care influence the offspring of threespine sticklebacks.

Staging a threatening encounter at a blackbird nest

It’s early morning, about 6 a.m. A light fog has settled over the marsh. I park my car, step out and double-check my backpack for all the necessary equipment before heading out.

After a short walk on a narrow paved path, I veer into the unmarked marsh. Water pools around my muck boots and a cacophony of bird calls rings in my ears. In the distance, I see a waving band of neon pink – a flag marking the location of a red-winged blackbird nest that my colleagues and I discovered yesterday.

Birds' eye size offers clues to coevolutionary arms race between brood parasites, hosts

Eye size likely plays a role in the contest between avian brood parasites – birds that lay their eggs in the nests of other species – and their hosts, who sometimes detect the foreign eggs and eject or abandon them, scientists report in the journal Biology Letters.

Some birds steal hair from living mammals

Dozens of online videos document an unusual behavior among tufted titmice and their closest bird kin. A bird will land on an unsuspecting mammal and, cautiously and stealthily, pluck out some of its hair.

Avian Brood Parasites Are About to Have Their Adaptability Tested

The future of parasitic birds, which lay their eggs in other nests, is totally dependent on their hosts' ability to adjust to climate change.

Imagine it’s spring in the year 2048. A Common Cuckoo returns from Africa to her breeding grounds in Europe, just as her ancestors have for thousands of years—except that lately the species has arrived earlier.

Early acoustic experiences alter methylation in songbird embryo's forebrain

Researchers at University of Illinois and City University of New York have recently carried out a study investigating the effects of early acoustic experiences on gene activation in songbirds. Their paper, published in Elsevier's journal Neuroscience Letters, shows that the early exposure to salient acoustic cues can significantly influence the development of social behaviors in songbirds.

IB Undergrad selected as one of Mayo Clinic's 2021 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows

Each year, Mayo Clinic invites around 180 undergraduates from across the nation to participate in their Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program.

Team cracks eggs for science

Avian brood parasites lay their eggs in the nests of other bird species, forcing the hosts to do the hard work of raising the unrelated young. A team of scientists wanted to simulate the task of piercing an egg – a tactic that only a minority of host birds use to help grasp and eject the foreign eggs. Their study offers insight into some of the physical challenges the discriminating host birds face.