I am interested in how animals evolved the wide range of complex behaviors we see in nature, such as the intricate songs of songbirds. I study how songbirds evolved their complex songs, and why female birds, in addition to male birds, sing.
I also manage a citizen-science project called the Female Bird Song Project: www.femalebirdsong.org. This project aims to increase awareness that female songbirds of many species sing, and promotes the archiving of female bird songs in sound collections.
I study the evolution of elaborate traits in female as well as male animals. I am especially interested in how complex vocal communication, such as bird song, evolves and, specifically, the selection pressures that act on females versus males to select for these traits. I use large-scale phylogenetic reconstruction and comparative methods to examine evolutionary patterns of bird song across female and male songbirds of many different species. I combine this information with field-based methods to assess the function and selection pressures acting on female song and duets of mated pairs.