About OEB

OEB provides interdepartmental training for MS and PhD students in ecology, animal behavior, organismal biology and evolutionary biology. Graduate students, post-docs, and faculty study biological processes ranging from the molecular to the ecosystem level, often bridging the gap between basic and applied research. Our faculty and students conduct research in four broad areas:

Animal Behavior: Behavioral ecology, communication, learning
Ecology: Community ecology, population ecology, landscape ecology, conservation biology
Evolutionary Biology: Evolution, phylogenetics, population genetics, molecular evolution
Organismal Biology: Physiology, morphology, paleontology

News & Announcements

Amy Strauss Awarded Developmental Science Initiative Dissertation Fellowhip

photo of amy strauss

Amy Strauss was awarded a Developmental Science Initiative Dissertation Fellowship in the amount of $10,000 from UMass Amherst's Center for Research on Families, an interdisciplinary research center based in the College of Natural Sciences and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. The award funds PhD students who exhibit the potential to make an outstanding contribution to the field of developmental science. 

Amy's research explores vocal learning in male songbirds, a process in which young birds learn to sing by reproducing the songs they hear during a 'sensitive period' early in life. This award will support Amy's work investigating the social and acoustic factors that influence how juvenile songbird brains store and represent auditory memories of tutor songs heard during early development. This process of sensory input storage occurs before vocal production even begins, laying a neural foundation that enables young birds to eventually produce adult song. The developmental process of song learning in birds parallels that of speech learning in humans, so this work will not only provide insight into birdsong developmental pathways, but may have applications in the field of human speech and language pathology. Amy is an OEB PhD candidate in the Podos Lab, and this research is part of a collaboration with the Remage-Healey Lab.

That's Life [Science] grad student blog publishes their 150th post

That's Life Science 150th blog post photo

Graduate students in the UMass IDGP programs created That's Life [Science], an interdisciplinary outreach blog, in 2016. Since then, the group has published 150 articles covering interesting topics across life science fields for the general public. "A Day in the Life of a Bird Nerd" is their 150th article!

Podos and Remage-Healey publish Nature paper on swamp sparrows

A team of researchers including Jeffrey Podos, Biology, and Luke Remage-Healey, Psychological & Brain Sciences, reported in Nature the discovery in the forebrain HVC of sensorimotor “bridge” neurons in swamp sparrows that simultaneously and selectively represent two critical learning-related schemas: the bird’s own song, and the specific tutor model from which that song was copied. Read More: Nature

Podos Elected President of Animal Behavior Society

Biology professor Jeff Podos has been elected the 2017-18 president of the Animal Behavior Society (ABS), the discipline’s principal scientific society in the Western Hemisphere. Read More

Laela Sayigh and team report progress in preventing mass dolphin strandings

OEB faculty member Laela Sayigh is lead investigator on a  team of researchers studying dolphins at Wellfleet Harbor on Cape Cod. This team may have found a way to prevent mass stranding events by listening to dolphin whistles (read more)