Research by faculty member, Lainy Day, post-doctoral student Willow Lindsay and two undergraduate co-authors was recognized as the editor's pick for this month's issue of Brain, Behavior, and Evolution, http://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/369244 . Illustrations from the paper also made the cover of the journal. The editor's pick is freely available for download in this journal that is normally available by subscription only. The paper demonstrates that when males are attracting females, the more complex the dance is the larger is the size of the male's brain - at least in the family of birds known as the manakins, Pipridae. This group of birds lives in Central and South America and males perform courtship displays for females that vary in complexity from simple alterations in typical avian flight patterns to wildly acrobatic displays punctuated by loud snapping sounds made by the wings of the birds.
Biology graduate student, Cody Jordan, received the 'Research/Conservation Award' at the 2015 Mississippi Bat Working Group annual meeting. He was nominated for and received this award for work done as part of his thesis research with assistance from the MBWG. Cody's Master of Science thesis research, supervised by Dr. Richard Buchholz, is focused on Rafinesque's big-eared bats (Corynorhinus rafinesquii), an uncommon species. The colony at his study site is the only known colony of this species in Lafayette county. His research has yielded new information on population size and structure, roost characteristics, and foraging behavior. This information will be used for conservation and management decisions regarding the roost because it is located in a rapidly deteriorating building.
With its fanned plumage and bold strut, a male wild turkey's display conjures images of Americana and festive feasts. But this bird's grandstanding isn't intended for human eyes—it's for female turkeys who actually use it to discern a male's genetic prowess. How exactly she parses performances to pick a suitor can be a fairly complex enterprise.
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Congratulations! Biology Ph.D. student Stuart Nielsen (right), a member of Dr. Brice Noonan's laboratory group, has been awarded a Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation. This award will allow Stuart to continue his work on the evolution of lizards of southern Africa, including the Agama lizards (far right). His rigorous analyses of mechanisms thought to be driving diversification will greatly enhance our understanding of this unique and complex region.
Biology graduate student Mariah Meachum (Ph.D., Hoeksema laboratory) was a 2nd place winner in our university's 3-minute thesis (3MT) competition, (click to see video) in which graduate students were challenged to present a concise summary of their graduate work to a general audience. Congratulations to those who made it to the 2nd round of competition: Tim Colston, Sarah Crocker-Buta, Ariel Dauzart, Jamie Wood and Mariah Meachum.