Jeffrey Podos


Photograph of First Last
332A Morrill II South

B.A., Franklin & Marshall College, 1989
Ph.D., Duke Uiversity, 1996


1998-2000, University of Arizona

Research Interests: 

Mechanisms and Evolution of Vertebrate Behavior; Bioacoustics

Research in my laboratory addresses the interface of animal behavior, organismal biology, and evolutionary biology. We are particularly interested in a question first articulated by the ethologist Niko Tinbergen: How do proximate mechanisms of behavior, such as biomechanics, physiological performance, and development, shape the evolutionary diversification of behavior? Our work focuses on vocal behavior and evolution in vertebrates, especially songbirds.

Laboratory work aims to characterize aspects of vocal production and perception in songbirds. Experimental studies of vocal learning in hand-reared sparrows are used to assess how limits on vocal proficiency constrain the evolution of vocal frequency, timing, and syntax features. Complementary laboratory activities include quantitative surveys of vocal diversity using bioacoustic analyses, characterization of display motor patterns through high-speed video analyses, and tests of birds' perceptual preferences for songs of varying acoustic structure.

Field work is conducted at local sites, in Brazil, and in the Galápagos Islands. Local field studies address questions of song function and perception in birds. Current research in Brasil, conducted in collaboration with Regina Macedo and her students at the Universidade de Brasilia, addresses questions about sexual selection and communication in a Neotropical songbird, the blue-black grassquit. Work in the Galápagos asks how, in Darwinís finches, the evolutionary diversification of vocal tract morphology has shaped the evolution of vocal proficiency and song structure. The characterization of functional links between vocal tract morphology and song, together with field playback studies, is providing insight into relationships between morphological adaptation, vocal diversification, and reproductive isolation.

Click into my laboratory web page to learn more.

Representative Publications: 

Podos, J. & Cohn-Haft. (in press). Extremely loud mating signals at close range in white bellbirds. To appear in _Current Biology_.

De León, L., Sharpe, D. M. T., Gotanda, K., Raeymaekers, J. A. M., Chaves, J. A., Hendry, A. P. & Podos, J. (2018). Urbanization erodes niche segregation in Darwin’s finches. _Evolutionary Applications_ 2018:1-15, DOI: 10.1111/eva.12721.

Manica, L., Macedo, R. H., Graves, J. & Podos, J (2017). Vigor and skill in the acrobatic mating displays of a Neotropical songbird. _Behavioral Ecology_28:164-173.

Irschick, D.J., Briffa, M, & Podos, J. (2015) _Animal Signaling and Function: An Integrative Approach_. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken NJ.

Goodwin, S. E. & Podos, J (2014). Team of rivals: alliance formation in territorial songbirds is predicted by vocal signal structure. _Biology Letters_ 10:20131083.

Byers, JA, Hebets, EA, & Podos, J.

(2010). Female mate choice based upon male motor performance. _Animal Behaviour_ 79: 771-778.


Podos, J., Lahti, D. C., & Moseley, D. L. (2009). Vocal performance and sensorimotor learning in songbirds. _Advances in the Study of Behavior_ 40:159-195.

Huber, S. K, De Leon, L. F., Hendry, A. P., Bermingham, E. & Podos, J (2007). Reproductive isolation of sympatric morphs in a population of Darwin's finches. _Proceedings of the Royal Society B_ 274:1709-1714.

Fernandes, CC, Podos, J & Lundberg, JG (2004). Amazonian ecology: Tributaries enhance the diversity of electric fishes. _Science_ 305: 1960-1962.

Podos, J. (2001). Correlated evolution of morphology and vocal signal structure in Darwin’s finches. _Nature_ 409:185-188.