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Post-Doctoral Fellows

George Bentley ( - I am interested in the interactions of hormones, brain and behavior in birds. The brain can be envisaged as the interface between the environment and the internal physiology of the bird. My interests focus on how signals from a bird's immediate environment, such as changes in day length or another bird's song, are detected by the brain and converted into neural and endocrine signals which in turn affect the physiology and behavior of an individual. Recently, I have been concentrating on seasonal effects of the pineal hormone melatonin upon neuroplasticity and song behavior.

Wolfgang Goymann ( - I am interested in the interplay of social systems, ecology and physiology of animal species. Currently, I investigate the sex-role reversed, polyandrous black coucal (Centropus grillii). To my best knowledge, black coucals are the only bird species with altricial young and sole male parental care. Key questions are (1) the hormonal regulation of sex-role reversal and polyandry, (2) the role of sperm competition, and (3) evolutionary and environmetal factors that my have facilitated the evolution of this unusual breeding system. Some additional information about coucals and other projects can be found at:

Ignacio Moore ( - I am interested in interactions between the endocrine system and social environment in free-living organisms. Currently my research focuses on the control of reproduction and territoriality in an equatorial population of rufous-collared sparrows, Zonotrichia capensis, in the high Andes of Ecuador. This population is within one degree latitude of the equator but at high elevation where the environment is relatively constant and lacking in seasonal environmental changes. This presents the opportunity to understand how animals living in equatorial environments organize what are seasonal processes in northern latitudes.

Samrrah Raouf ( - I study the endocrine responses to colony size in Cliff Swallows, Petrochelidon pyrrhonota. The ultimate goal of this research is to understand the evolution of colonial nesting in birds. The specific aim of this project is to learn more about the costs and benefits of nesting in large and small colonies in the Cliff Swallow. This bird is ideal to answer these questions because (1) this species has been studied for over 14 years by my collaborators Dr. Charles Brown and Dr. Mary Bomberger-Brown at the University of Tulsa, OK, and thus we already know much about their natural history and behavior (2) Cliff swallows show a large variation in colony size, from two nests to over 3,700 and (3) the protocol for catching and sampling these birds and minimizing the stress imposed on these birds has already been established by Drs. Brown and Bomberger-Brown.

By measuring corticosterone and testosterone levels in colonially nesting cliff swallows we will be able to answer several questions that behavioral biologists are interested in:

(1) Does living in large colonies elevate corticosterone levels?
(2) Have cliff swallows evolved a novel way to deal with physiological effects of social stress?
(3) Does eliminating/reducing parasite loads in cliff swallows reduce their physiological stress?
(4) Does living in large colonies elevate the level of testosterone in cliff swallows?

Our preliminary results will be presented at the 2001 meeting of the American Ornithological Union, Seattle Washington.

Todd Sperry ( - I am interested in the hormonal mechanisms that control territorial aggression in song birds. In particular, my focus is on how the serotonin and androgen mediated pathways modulate seasonal changes in aggressive behavior in the Song sparrow.