Shelley Davis Parker

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Avian Sciences Graduate Group Alumni


Major Professor: Thomas Coombs-Hahn
Home Department: Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior - Division of Biological Sciences


  • M.S. Avian Sciences - UC Davis 2009
  • B.S. Avian Sciences - UC Davis 2007

Thesis Title
Heterospecific Vocal Mimicry in Cassin's Finch (carpodacus cassinii): A Descriptive Analysis.

Research interests
My general interests include bird behavior and conservation biology of birds. My research focuses on quantifying birdsong structure and exploring the possible function of heterospecific vocal mimicry. Among passerines, oscines typically learn song by copying a tutor heard during early development. This tutor is usually a parent or other conspecific, yet some oscines also copy the songs of different species. I am currently evaluating this phenomenon in Cassin’s Finch (Carpodacus cassinii), a migratory songbird in which males sing to solicit a female for mating. The male song is highly variable in note type, song type, and higher-order syntactical arrangements. I am interested in learning if the incorporation of heterospecific imitations gives males a selective advantage in gaining mates. If so, I hope to ascertain whether females are responding to song complexity in itself, or perhaps assessing specific information conveyed by those imitations such as male wintering location.