Behavior & Sensory Biology

Research in behavior and organismal biology investigates the evolution of individual and social behaviors, including foraging, communication, cognition, social organization, mating, movement, and collective decision-making. Understanding the diversity of behavior and morphology is a central goal, so we also study the physiology, biomechanics, and development of organisms. We approach questions at many levels, from the genetic, neural, and sensory underpinnings of individual decision-making to the selective pressures that shape behavioral strategies. Our tools are similarly diverse, encompassing field, museum-based, molecular, and theoretical approaches. A key aim of our research is to infer patterns from experiments and comparative field studies, identifying general principles that underlie complex behaviors and phenotypes. We then use evolutionary theory and models to generate predictions that can be tested in the field and lab. Because our research often reveals how environments and ecology shape behavior, we also use these insights to guide conservation efforts.