Postdoc offices are in 2343 Storer Hall, Phone: 530-754-7837
I am broadly interested in behavioral and evolutionary questions, particularly related to the mechanistic, developmental, and evolutionary factors that shape avian social systems. My dissertation research focused on the mating system of the wild turkey, and understanding how subordinate males benefit from cooperative partnerships with other males. I used molecular measures of relatedness and paternity to show that kin selection can explain this apparently altruistic behavior; current direct and future direct benefits seem unlikely to account for the evolution of cooperative male courtship in this species. I also investigated how brood parasitism and spatial patterns of parentage determine offspring relatedness, and then how this could influence the ways in which these coalitions of relatives might form. My current project involves sexual signaling in greater sage-grouse. Sage-grouse are a lekking species in which females seem free to choose amongst many males to obtain optimal genes for their offspring. Here we are asking three basic questions: 1) what signals are females using to assess male quality, 2) what can males do to optimize the signal sent to females, and 3) how do environmentally-mediated changes in sound propagation influence male mating success.
Prior to joining the Patricelli lab, my research has focused on the intersection of animal communication and conservation, namely quantifying information contained in animal signals in an effort to expand the application of bioacoustics as a conservation and management tool, and measuring the impacts of human-generated noise on communication and the ability of species to compensate for these impacts. To address these research questions I have employed both golden-mantled ground squirrels (Spermophilus lateralis) and Belding’s ground squirrels (Spermophilus beldingi) as model species, and utilized information theory, discriminant function analysis, and neural networks. I am also interested in the relationship between communication system complexity and social system complexity, as well as the relationship between vocal structure and function in communication systems.
Natural gas and methane extraction is a growing industry in Wyoming, and some greater sage grouse leks appear to be declining in areas near industrial sites. Our goal, and my task in the lab, is to develop a model that will help us to understand whether industrial noise has played a significant role in these reductions in lek attendance. This spatially explicit model will show how noise from industrial sites propagates over the surrounding area based on terrain and other environmental factors. In addition to explaining historic patterns of lek attendance, we will also use this model to predict how noise from new industrial sites will impact nearby greater sage grouse leks.
Before coming to the Patricelli lab, my research focused on mathematically quantifying the structure of animal communication systems. For this work some of my favorite mathematical tools are information theory and pattern recognition techniques such as classification and regression trees and neural networks. I enjoy using quantitative methods to explore larger principles of organization across animal communication systems. I also enjoy exploring how specific communication systems are adapted to the physiology and ecology of a species. My doctoral research was on the social and acoustic ecology of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) that participate in a group foraging behavior, called bubble-net feeding, in Southeast Alaska. This feeding technique allows whales to catch schooling herring (Clupea harengus), a prey that cannot be easily obtained by a single whale. My research elucidated the community structure of the whales that forage socially in Southeast Alaska. I also measured changes in humpback vocal behavior while hunting in the presence of noise from boats.
My role in the Patricelli lab was to develop a spatial model of the interaction of industrial noise with greater sage grouse leks. Natural gas and methane extraction is a growing industry in Wyoming, and some sage grouse leks appear to be declining in areas near industrial sites. The model that will help us to understand how much of a role noise from gas extraction has in a reduction of lek attendance and to predict how noise will propagate from new industrial sites based on geographic and environmental factors. Stacie Hooper is continuing work on the model.
Sean is now a civilian Natural Resources Management Specialist with the U.S. Navy in Hawaii, providing the federal government and all branches of the military with expertise on environmental issues and the monitoring of marine mammals:
Dr. Sean F. Hanser
Natural Resources Management Specialist (Marine Mammals) Naval Facilities Engineering Command
EV2 Environmental Planning
258 Makalapa Drive, Suite 100
Pearl Harbor, HI 96860-3134
Diane worked in the lab from February 2005 to December 2006 investigating the potential impacts of noise from energy development on acoustic communication in Greater sage-grouse in Wyoming (details).
contact Gail | last updated 10-30-09