October 24 2018

12:00 LSB 2320

Cassie Stoddard
Princeton University

Shape, structure, pattern and color in the avian world: insights from eggs and hummingbirds


Birds evolved about 150 million years ago, and today they are a group of remarkably diverse terrestrial vertebrates. In my lab, we are fascinated by the ecological and evolutionary processes that drive this variation. How and why have birds evolved eggs with diverse phenotypes? How do pattern and color perception influence avian visual signals, including those used for deception, foraging and courtship? Here, across a range of taxonomic and temporal scales, I explore these questions. At a broad scale, mechanistic and macroevolutionary perspectives provide clues about egg shape, while a more focused case study sheds light on the details of eggshell design. Examining species interactions – here between brood parasites and their hosts – shows how coevolutionary dynamics can influence visual signals. Specifically, hosts must identify and reject odd eggs – or risk losing their entire reproductive output, and our analyses suggest that hosts pay attention not only to color and simple pattern metrics but also to more complex pattern features on eggs. Finally, the visual world of hummingbirds offers opportunities for investigating color perception in the context of foraging behavior and spectacular courtship displays.

Host: Dan Blumstein











































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































this is idtest: