Alumna Casey Haines, former URA Scholar and researcher in the Omland Lab, publishes as first author in the journal, Science Direct. Her article, "The Role of Diversity in Science: A Case Study of Women Advancing Female Birdsong Research", demonstrates the importance of diversity in faculty and student research.
"Researchers of different genders and backgrounds contribute greatly to the diversity of questions and approaches in science. Historically birdsong was studied primarily as a male trait. However, as researchers in the field of animal behaviour have become more diverse, women have made substantial contributions to the birdsong literature, including through the study of female birdsong. We investigated the influence of gender on research topic and asked: are research articles on female birdsong disproportionately authored by women?"
Read her paper here:
Link to the UMBC New story:
Casey's undergraduate research:
Response of Eastern Bluebirds (Salias salias) to Playbacks of Male and Female Vocalizations
Dr. Kevin Omland
Response Of Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia Sialis) To Playbacks Of Male And Female Vocalizations
Kevin Omland, Biological Sciences
Until recently, function and presence of female bird song has been underrepresented in research. We know, based on research from our lab, that female song in Eastern Bluebirds functions in mate communication yet is statistically indistinguishable from male song. Our lab strives to fill in the gaps of our understanding of female song. We tested if male and female Eastern Bluebirds are able to distinguish between male and female vocalizations. We created a set of playback presentations to test bluebird song sex-discrimination in the field. We recorded response behaviors as well as distances of each focal individual from the playback speaker, nest box, and mate using pairs of Eastern Bluebirds from a field site in Howard County, MD. While studies on playback recordings of male Eastern Bluebirds have been conducted, this is the first time behavioral responses will be used to determine if Eastern Bluebirds can discern sex based on song alone. Studying the distinctiveness of female song will further our understanding of the evolution of complex communication by demonstrating the ability of female song to convey unique information.