Karan J. Odom

Karan J. Odom
University of Maryland, College Park | UMD, UMCP, University of Maryland College Park · College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Doctor of Philosophy
University of Maryland, College Park

About

28
Publications
8,116
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Citations
Introduction
I am a behavioral ecologist interested in the evolution of elaborate traits. Specifically, I am interested in the processes and selection pressures responsible for such traits in both females and males. To study this, I examine how complex bird song varies between females and males throughout songbirds and what selection pressures have influenced the evolution of elaborate female traits using phylogenetic comparative methods and field studies.
Additional affiliations
September 2016 - present
Leiden University
Position
  • Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow
August 2010 - August 2016
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Position
  • PhD
September 2009 - March 2010
American Museum of Natural History
Position
  • Internship

Publications

Publications (28)
Article
Full-text available
Bird song has historically been considered an almost exclusively male trait, an observation fundamental to the formulation of Darwin's theory of sexual selection. Like other male ornaments, song is used by male songbirds to attract females and compete with rivals. Thus, bird song has become a textbook example of the power of sexual selection to lea...
Article
Full-text available
Females and males of many animals combine their vocalizations into coordinated acoustic duets. Duets can mediate both cooperation and conflict between partners, and are common in tropical, sedentary species that may use duets for multiple functions year-round. To elucidate the full range of duet functions, we need to study the individual-level beha...
Article
Full-text available
Female bird song and combined vocal duets of mated pairs are both frequently associated with tropical, monogamous, sedentary natural histories. Little is known, however, about what selects for duetting behavior versus female song. Female song likely preceded duet evolution and could drive apparent relationships between duets and these natural histo...
Article
Full-text available
Much of our understanding of vocal geographic variation in birds is based on the dialects of oscine songbirds that learn their songs. Recent studies have revealed that nonoscine vocal behavior is more complex than previously thought, yet we still have a rudimentary understanding of how vocalizations of suboscine and nonpasserine birds are influence...
Article
Full-text available
Barred Owls (Strix varia) are highly vocal and perform a diverse array of vocalizations. They are often monitored by acoustic surveys, yet Barred Owl vocalizations and vocal behavior are poorly described. We present a detailed analysis of Barred Owl vocal behavior with four goals: (1) to provide a quantitative description of Barred Owl vocalization...
Article
Full-text available
Historically, bird song complexity was thought to evolve primarily through sexual selection on males; yet, in many species, both sexes sing and selection pressure on both sexes may be broader. Previous research suggests competition for mates and resources during short, synchronous breeding seasons leads to more elaborate male songs at high, tempera...
Article
Full-text available
Conspicuous female signals have recently received substantial scientific attention, but it remains unclear if their evolution is the result of selection acting on females independently of males or if mutual selection facilitates female change. Species that express female, but not male, phenotypic variation among populations represents a useful oppo...
Preprint
Conspicuous female signals have recently received substantial scientific attention, but the degree to which female-specific selection drives their evolution remains unclear. Species that express female-specific phenotypic variation among populations represent a useful opportunity to address this knowledge gap. White-shouldered fairywrens (Malurus a...
Preprint
Full-text available
Historically, bird song complexity was thought to evolve primarily through sexual selection on males, yet in many species both sexes sing. Previous research suggests competition for mates and resources during short, synchronous breeding seasons leads to more elaborate male songs at high latitudes. In contrast, we expect male-female song dimorphism...
Article
Full-text available
Assessing diversity of discretely varying behavior is a classical ethological problem. In particular, the challenge of calculating an individuals’ or species’ vocal repertoire size is often an important step in ecological and behavioral studies, but a reproducible and broadly applicable method for accomplishing this task is not currently available....
Article
Animals produce a wide array of sounds with highly variable acoustic structures. It is possible to understand the causes and consequences of this variation across taxa with phylogenetic comparative analyses. Acoustic and evolutionary analyses are rapidly increasing in sophistication such that choosing appropriate acoustic and evolutionary approache...
Article
Full-text available
Many animals produce coordinated signals, but few are more striking than the elaborate male-female vocal duets produced by some tropical songbirds. Yet, little is known about the factors driving the extreme levels of vocal coordination between mated pairs in these taxa. We examined evolutionary patterns of duet coordination and their potential evol...
Article
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 t...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding the patterns and processes related to sexual dimorphism and sex differences in diverse animal taxa is a foundational research topic in ecology and evolution. Within the realm of animal communication, studies have traditionally focused on male signals, assuming that female choice and male–male competition have promoted sex differences...
Preprint
Full-text available
Understanding the patterns and processes related to sexual dimorphism in diverse animal taxa is a foundational research topic in ecology and evolution. Within the realm of animal communication, studies have traditionally focused on male signals, assuming that female choice and male-male competition have promoted dimorphism via elaboration of male t...
Article
Full-text available
Territories provide important breeding and nonbreeding resources for many bird species. Most songbird territory research has been conducted in temperate regions during the breeding season, a situation in which primarily males appear to defend territories and for only a few months. In the tropics, however, both females and males of many species may...
Article
Historically, bird song has been regarded as a sex-specific signalling trait; males sing to attract females and females drive the evolution of signal exaggeration by preferring males with ever more complex songs. This view provides no functional role for female song. Historic geographical research biases generalized pronounced sex differences of ph...
Article
Full-text available
Research on bird song has contributed to important advances in diverse biological fields from neurobiology to conservation biology. Bird song has traditionally been studied as an elaborate male trait, but female song is also widespread in both temperate and tropical species and likely evolved in the early ancestors of modern songbirds. However, fem...
Article
Full-text available
Both females and males of many animals possess elaborate displays, such as solo songs and duets of songbirds. We know little about the function of female song or what selects for duets. To examine their possible functions, we played female solos, duets and a heterospecific control to pairs of troupials (Icterus icterus). Both sexes responded strong...
Article
Full-text available
Recent research emphasizes that female song is evolutionarily important, yet there are still few species for which we have quantified the similarities and differences between male and female song. Comparing song rates and the structure of female and male song is an important first step to forming hypotheses about functional and evolutionary differe...
Article
Full-text available
Evolutionary biologists often assume that male competition for females is the root of the evolution of elaborate coloration and song. However, recent findings show that in the ancestral history of songbirds, it is likely that song occurred in both males and females. Surprisingly, no data exist on female song for many species of birds. We investigat...
Article
Full-text available
Context Conservation of grassland vertebrates requires a mechanistic understanding of the effects of landscape heterogeneity on habitat selection and demographic performance. Objectives Our goal was to investigate the effects of rangeland management on resource selection and nest survival of upland sandpipers (Bartramia longicauda). Methods We cond...
Data
Supplement to: "Female song is widespread and ancestral in songbirds". Abstract: Bird song has historically been considered an almost exclusively male trait, an observation fundamental to the formulation of Darwin’s theory of sexual selection. Like other male ornaments, song is used by male songbirds to attract females and compete with rivals. Thus...
Article
Full-text available
Many animals have vocalizations that are individually distinguishable. Researchers can use these differences to facilitate monitoring of individuals. To be an effective monitoring tool, vocalizations must be recognizable throughout a season and preferably throughout an animal's lifetime. We assessed whether the territorial calls of Great Horned Owl...
Article
Full-text available
Strix varia es una lechuza no migratoria, común desde el sur de Canadá hasta el sur de California al oeste y hasta Texas y Florida al este, con poblaciones aisladas en el centra de México. Examinamos la estructura genética de poblaciones de S. varia en toda su distributión con 500–600 pares de bases de un gen nuclear y tres genes mitocondriales. En...
Article
Full-text available
Mated pairs of animals in many taxa coordinate their vocalizations into duets, yet most research on duetting has focused on songbirds. Here we examine the duetting behaviour of barred owls (Strix varia) by addressing three questions: (1) Do owl duets play a role in territorial interactions? (2) Do owls discriminate between duets of neighbours versu...

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Projects

Projects (2)
Project
Using phylogenetic trait reconstruction and comparative methods, we are investigating how female and male bird song structure has changed through evolutionary time and what selection pressures may be related to this elaborate trait in both sexes.