Vocal learning, or the ability to learn vocalizations from social companions, may have evolved to signal social group membership. If so, then vocal learners should converge on shared calls with their social group(s). We discovered that monk parakeets, adept vocal learners in captivity, do not converge on shared calls within social groups in their native South American range. Instead, individual identity may be the most important social information that monk parakeets encode in learned calls.Code Github Repository December 2019
One hypothesis about the origins of human language suggests that learned gestures preceded learned vocalizations. In this exciting article led by Dr. Marcelo Araya-Salas, we show that long-billed hermit hummingbirds exhibit learned variation in male-male visual displays. To our knowledge, this is the first evidence of learning of visual displays in animals.Proc Roy Soc B article May 2019
In a team led by my PhD mentor, Dr. Tim Wright, we present data on roost counts of yellow-naped amazons to show that populations are in severe decline. These trends hold even in areas where these parrots were long thought to be abundant. The data we present has so far been useful for updating this species’ status for conversation efforts.BCI article April 2018
This paper was led by former lab mate Dr. Marcelo Araya-Salas. We demonstrate conditions in which compression of sound files and background noise can affect quantitative analysis of acoustic signals, including parameters most affected by these issues. This was an important step for the field, as bioacoustics analyses generally tend to use different rules-of-thumb when taking these issues into account.Bioacoustics article November 2017
This work was led by former lab mate Dr. Elizabeth Hobson, in collaboration with Dr. Alejandro Salinas-Melgoza, also a former lab mate. We used open-access data to describe the historical context of the introduction of monk parakeets to Mexico, including information about international and national regulations on the wild bird trade and public health concerns.PLOS ONE article November 2017
My wife and I traveled to Puerto Iguazú for the first annual OCA meeting, a joint meeting of the Association of Field Ornithologists (USA), Aves Argentinas, Sociedade Brasileira de Ornitologia. I delivered a 1-day workshop on bioacoustics in R focused on the warbleR package, and a talk on the monk parakeet invasion in Mexico project. My wife was the official conference photographer, check out her blog for photos of different conference events, including plenary speakers, student presentations and a great gif of the dance contest winners of SBO's Jacana jacana celebration. We met many excellent people during this conference!Lastra Fotografica Blog August 2017
Undergraduate student Clara Hansen from the Wright Lab won the NMSU Honor's College Scholarship to conduct monk parakeet research in Uruguay. With Clara we recorded at numerous sites around Colonia del Sacramento and caught 60 birds across 6 different sites, which comes out to more than one bird a day during her stay! We learned a lot about how monk parakeets behave in their native range and different ways to trap them. Thanks to Clara for all the hard work down here!May - July 2017
Traveled with my wife to Uruguay to continue my PhD research with monk parakeets as a Fulbrighter.
My exclusive interview with Nicaraguan biologist Martin Lezama, which first appeared as a post on Dr. Christine Dahlin's blog through the University of Pittsburgh, was published in the spring edition of the quarterly magazine PsittaScene.
Completed successful crowdfunding campaign through Experiment.com with new collaborator Dr. Kevin Burgio at the University of Connecticut. Funds will support the Fulbright fieldwork. Thanks to all who contributed!December 2016
Visited the Santa Fe Institute with Dr. Alejandro Salinas, a former lab mate now at la Universidad de San Nicolas in Michoacan Mexico to begin a collaboration with former lab mate Dr. Elizabeth Hobson, who is a post-doc at SFI.November 2016
An article accompanying the warbleR package I co-developed with Dr. Marcelo Araya-Salas is now published in Methods and Ecology and Evolution. The package is up on CRAN and GitHub. If you do any sort of bioacoustics in your research, it's worth adding this package to your toolbox.MEE Article September 2016
Co-delivered bioinformatics / bioacoustics workshop for warbleR package with lead warbleR developer Dr. Marcelo Araya-Salas at la Universidad Centroamericana in Managua, in collaboration with Martin Lezama and the Nicaraguan chapter of La Sociedad Mesoamericana para la Biología y la Conservación. Our second warbleR workshop to date after holding the first at the Palo Verde Biological Research Station in Costa Rica in 2015. We had students/professionals in attendance from El Salvador, Nicaragua and Panama at this workshop! Contact me if you're interested in hosting a warbleR workshop in English or Spanish near you.July 2016
Traveled to Nicaragua with Dr. Tim Wright and new lab member Dominique Hellmich, where we met up with Martin Lezama, a Nicaraguan biologist. We traveled up and down the Nicaragua coast recording yellow-naped amazon parrot vocalizations as part of a collaboration with Dr. Christine Dahlin (University of Pittsburgh), who led a field team in Costa Rica.June - July 2016
Heard the good news about winning a Fulbright! Very excited to be working with future collaborators in Uruguay, in particular my Fulbright mentor Dr. Enrique Lessa (la Universidad de la República).
I also won a small grant through the American Ornithologist's Union. These funds also went towards my Fulbright fieldwork.