Mark E Hauber

469 Morrill Hall
Office: 217-300-7127

Mail: 515 Morrill Hall, 505 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana, IL 61801
Lab Page

Mark E Hauber
Harley Jones Van Cleave Professor of Host-Parasite Interactions


PhD 2002: Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University
BSc 1996: Organismal Biology, Yale University
DSc 2010: Biological Sciences, University of Auckland
MSc 2011: Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington

Teaching Interests

Ornithology, Physiology, Topics in Ecology and Evolution, Animal Behavior, Neuroethology

I am a professor and behavioral ecologist, conservation scientist, and comparative psychologist, focusing on the evolution of recognition systems, and using land- and seabirds to address questions about how individuals recognize themselves, their mates, their young, their prey, and their predators. Shifting gears between behavioral, developmental, and molecular tools, my lab has been studying the social and genetic consequences of species recognition in avian brood parasites, such as cuckoos and cowbirds. We also explore the cogntive and neurophysiological bases of self/other discrimination critical for the social functioning of individuals, including crowded nests, dense seabird colonies, and even large human settlements. We use comparative and genetic tools, chemical and physical models, and perceptual and mathematical models to understand how individuals make the decisions which are critical for their survival and success, including sexual reproduction.

Research in the Hauber lab (@cowbirdlab on Twitter) in the Department of Animal Biology at the School of Integrative Biology of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, focuses on the evolution of recognition systems. Shifting gears between behavioral, developmental, physiological, and molecular tools, we are studying the social and genetic consequences of species recognition in avian brood parasites, such as cuckoos, cowbirds, and whydahs, and their hosts. Obligate brood parasitism in birds provides an exciting model system for the evolution of social behaviors because, unlike 99% of bird species, they lay their eggs into nests of other species and are reared by foster parents. Several other projects in the lab tap into national and international collaborations throughout the world of birds, including the unique and often endangered sea- and shorebird fauna of New Zealand, as well as mammals, spiders, and other organisms from around the globe.


Editor-in-Chief, The Auk: Ornithological Advances (2014-2018)
Fellow, American Ornithological Society (2013)
Miller Institute Basic Research in Science Fellowship (2002-2005), UC Berkeley
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Predoctoral Fellowship (1997-2002)
Phi Beta Kappa (1996)

Representative Publications

Research Highlights:

Cuthill I, Allen W, Arbuckle K, Caspers B, Chaplin G, Hauber ME, Hill GE, Jablonski N, Jiggins C, Kelber A, Mappes J, Marshall J, Merrill R, Osorio D, Prum R, Roberts N, Roulin A, Rowland H, Sherratt T, Skelhorn J, Speed M, Stevens M, Stoddard MC, Stuart-Fox D, Talas L, Tibbetts E, Caro (in press) The Biology of Color. Science.

Stoddard MC, Hauber ME (in press) Colour, vision, and coevolution in avian brood parasitism. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B 372: 20160339​.

Hanley D, Grim T, Igic B, Samas P, Lopez AV, Shawkey MD, Hauber ME (2017) Egg discrimination along a gradient of natural variation in eggshell coloration. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 284: 20162592.

Mendelson TC, Fitzpatrick CL, Hauber ME, Pence CH, Rodgriguez RL, Safran RJ, Stern CA, Stevens JR (2016) Cognitive phenotypes and the evolution of animal decisions. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 11: 850–859​.

d’Alba L, Rafael M, Hauber ME, Shawkey MD (2016) The evolution of eggshell cuticle in relation to nesting ecology. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 283: 20160687.

Louder MIM, Voss HU, Manna TJ, Carryl SS, London SE, Balakrishnan CN, Hauber ME (2016) Shared neural substrates for song discrimination in parental and parasitic songbirds. Neuroscience Letters 622: 49-54. ​ Hebets EA, Barron AB, Balakrishnan C, Hauber ME, Mason P, Hoke K (2016) A systems approach to animal signaling. Proceeding of the Royal Society of London B 283: 20152889.

Hanley D, Grim T, Cassey P, Hauber ME (2015) Not so colourful after all: eggshell pigments constrain avian eggshell colour space. Biology Letters 11: 20150087. Read about it in Audubon Magazine.

Igic B, Nunez V, Voss HU, Croston R, Aidala Z, Lopez AV, Van Tatenhove A, Holford ME, Shawkey MD, Hauber ME (2015) Using 3D printed eggs to examine the egg-rejection behaviour of wild birds. PeerJ 3:e965. Read about it in Science and listen about it on NPR.

Igic B, Fecheyr-Lippens D, Xiao M, Chan A, Hanley D, Brennan PR, Grim T, Waterhouse GI, Hauber ME,Shawkey MD (2015) A nanostructural basis for gloss of avian eggshells. Journal of the Royal Society Interface 12: 20141210. Read about it in the NY Times.

Barron AB, Hebets EA, Cleland TA, Fitzpatrick CL, Hauber ME, Stevens J (2015) Embracing multiple definitions of learning. Trends in Neurosciences 38: 405-407.

Hauber ME (2014) The Book of Eggs. University of Chicago Press. Read about it in The Guardian.

Colombelli-Negrel D, Hauber ME, Kleindorfer SM (2014) Prenatal learning in an Australian songbird: habituation and individual discrimination in superb fairy-wren embryos. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 281: 20141154. Read about it in Science and the Smithsonian Magazine.

Hauber ME, Woolley SMN, Cassey P, Theunissen FE (2013) Experience dependence of neural responses to different classes of male songs in the primary auditory forebrain of female songbirds. Behavioural Brain Research 243: 184-190.

Colombelli-Negrel D, Hauber ME, Robertson J, Sulloway FJ, Hoi H, Griggio M, Evans C, Kleindorfer S (2012) Embryonic learning of vocal passwords in superb fairy-wrens reveals intruder cuckoo nestlings.Current Biology 22: 2155-2160. Read about it in the NY Times . Highlighted as a top-10 research discovery by ABC.

Igic B, Cassey P, Grim T, Greenwood DR, Moskat C, Rutila J, Hauber ME (2012) A shared chemical basis of avian host-parasite egg colour mimicry. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 279: 1068-1076.

Machovsky Capuska GE, Howland HC, Raubenheimer D, Vaugh R, Wursig B, Hauber ME, Katzir G (2012) Visual accommodation and active pursuit of prey underwater in a plunge diving bird: the Australasian gannet.Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 279: 4118-4125. Read about it in Current Biology.

Rayner MJ, Hauber ME, Steeves TE, Lawrence HA, Thompson DR, Sagar PM, Bury SJ, Landers TJ, Phillips RA, Ranjard L, Shaffer SA (2011) Contemporary and historical separation of transequatorial migration between genetically distinct seabird populations. Nature Communications 2: 232. Featured on Radio New Zealand.

Igic B, Braganza K, Hyland MM, Silyn-Roberts H, Cassey P, Grim T, Rutila J, Moskat C, Hauber ME (2011) Alternative mechanisms of increased eggshell hardness of avian brood parasites relative to host species.Journal of the Royal Society Interface 8: 1654-1664.

Hubbard JK, Uy AC, Hauber ME, Hoekstra HE, Safran RJ (2010) Vertebrate pigmentation: from underlying genes to adaptive function. Trends in Genetics 26: 231-239

Steeves TE, Holdaway RN, Hale ML, McLay E, McAllan IAW, Christian M, Hauber ME, Bunce M (2010) Merging ancient and modern DNA: extinct seabird taxon rediscovered in the North Tasman Sea. Biology Letters 6: 94-97.

Anderson MG, Ross HA, Brunton DH, Hauber ME (2009) Begging call matching between a specialist brood parasite and its host: a comparative approach to detect co-evolution. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 98: 208-216.

Cassey P, Honza M, Grim T, Hauber ME (2008) The modeling of avian visual perception predicts behavioural rejection responses to foreign egg colours. Biology Letters 4: 515-517. Read about it in Current Biology.

Rubenstein DR, Hauber ME (2008) Dynamic feedback between phenotype and physiology in sexually selected traits. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 23: 655-658.

Rayner MJ, Hauber ME, Imber MJ, Stamp RK, Clout MN (2007) Spatial heterogeneity of mesopredator release within an oceanic island system. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 104: 20862-20865. Read about it the NY Times.

Hauber ME, Moskat C, Ban M (2006) Experimental shift in hosts' acceptance threshold of inaccurate-mimic brood parasite eggs. Biology Letters 2: 177-180.

Shawkey MD, Hauber ME, Estep LK, Hill GE (2006) Evolutionary transitions and mechanisms of matte and iridescent plumage coloration in grackles and allies (Icteridae). Journal of the Royal Society Interface 3: 777-786.

Hauber ME, Lacey EA (2005) Bateman's principle in cooperatively breeding vertebrates: the effects of non-breeding alloparents on variability of female and male reproductive success. Integrative and Comparative Biology 45: 903-914. Cited in Nature, Sciences, and PNAS

Kilner RM, Madden JR, Hauber ME (2004) Brood parasitic cowbird nestlings use host young to procure resources. Science 305: 877-879. Read about it in the NY Times and listen about it on NPR.

Hauber ME, Yeh PJ, Roberts JOL (2004) Patterns and coevolutionary consequences of repeated brood parasitism. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 271: S317-S320.

Hauber ME (2003) Interspecific brood parasitism and the evolution of host clutch sizes. Evolutionary Ecology Research 5: 559-570.

McGraw KJ, Mackillup EA, Dale J, Hauber ME (2002) Differential effects of nutritional stress during molt on the expression of melanin- and structurally based ornamental plumage coloration. Journal of Experimental Biology 205: 3747-3755.

Hauber ME, Sherman PW (2001) Self-referent phenotype matching: theoretical possibilities and empirical tests. Trends in Neurosciences 24: 609-616.

Hauber ME, Russo SA, Sherman PW (2001) A password for species recognition in a brood parasitic bird.Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 268: 1041-1048. Read about it National Geographic.

Hauber ME, Sherman PW (2000) The armpit effect in hamster kin recognition. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 15: 349-350.

Complete Publications List