Todd Freeberg receives a 4-year NSF grant entitled,
Congratulations to Todd Freeberg on his receiving a 4-year NSF grant entitled, "Collaborative Research: Causes of Variation in Parid Call Complexity." Todd is the Lead PI and the collaborative grant includes two Co-PI's: Katie Sieving from University of Florida and Jeff Lucas from Purdue University. The UT portion of the grant is $365,000 in direct costs. Here is a brief description of the project:
Human language is the most complex communication system known. However, many non-human animal species also have quite complex communication systems, including non-human primates, whales and dolphins, and even many bird species. The key factors driving such complexity, though, remain largely unknown for both human language and for non-human communication systems. Discovering these factors is crucial to understanding the origin and evolution of such complex behavior, including the origin of language in our own ancestors. The proposed research will use observational and experimental methods to test three key factors that have been proposed to explain vocal communication complexity: social complexity and group size, predation risk, and habitat-induced constraints on sound transmission. The investigators will examine these factors in two common North American bird species that possess complex systems of vocal behavior as well as complex social structures – Carolina chickadees and tufted titmice.