I'm a Ph.D. student working in Carl Gerhardt's lab. I'm very interested in all aspects of communication behavior in frogs, but I am particularly fascinated by how male communication is affected by the complex social environment of the chorus. My primary focus has been on aggressive calling in a few different species. My goals have been to determine in what situations aggressive calls are given, and, more importantly, what the signal function of the aggressive call is.
Many frog species, in addition to giving advertisement calls to attract mates, often produce a distinctly different call that appears to function primarily in the context of close range male-male aggressive interactions. Oddly enough, despite the long-term use of frogs as subjects for studies of animal communication, we know very little about the behavioral aspects of aggressive calling in frogs, and in particular, we do not know how or why they are used to resolve aggressive interactions. I feel it is important to resolve these questions because it is reasonable to suspect that success in aggressive interactions may relate to success in attracting mates, and given the heavy focus on sexual selection in studies of anurans, this represents a key piece of missing information. Furthermore, frog aggressive calls may offer a unique perspective to the general study and theory of aggressive communication. Males do not have weapons in most species of frogs, and appear incapable of injuring one another, yet often resolve their disputes through the use of aggressive signals. In my Ph.D. work, I have developed new methods to study anuran aggressive interactions that may lead to new insights into these problems.
My Ph.D. research has been divided into two systems. Since 2006, I have been studying aggressive calling in a Neotropical treefrog, Dendropsophus ebraccatus. To learn more about this research, click here. More recently, I have begun studying aggressive behavior in the common North American Gray Treefrog, Hyla versicolor. Click here to read more about this research. Be sure to check out my publications and CV as well! I'm always happy to hear from people interested in this research, and in particular would love to hear from potential collaborators and assistants. I can be contacted by email or with the information below:
Office Phone: 573-884-7883
213 Tucker Hall,
Division of Biological Sciences
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65211 USA
A few links to friends & allies:
Dr. Mike Singer - My former advisor at the University of Texas
Dr. Cynthia Corbitt - Employer while I was a lab tech at the University of Louisville
Dr. Allison Welch - My undergraduate research advisor while I was at the University of North Carolina
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute - Most of my research in the tropics has been conducted at their field station in Gamboa, Panama
Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) - In the summer 2010, I will continue my tropical field research at the OTS station in La Selva, Costa Rica