Dana L. Moseley

Photo of Dana Moseley

PhD Candidate

B.S., University of North Carolina, 2003

Advisor: Jeffrey E. Podos
Dissertation/thesis title: Vocal performance in songbirds: territorial defense and the development of male song and female mating preferences

Research Interests

Signal function and sexual selection in swamp sparrow song

My research interests lie broadly in evolution and animal behavior. Specifically, I aim to understand how males indicate threat and how females develop their mating preferences. To do this, I focus on the Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana), a species in which females have been shown to prefer songs with high levels of vocal performance, i.e. with comparatively high trill rates and broad frequency bandwidths. Thus, sexual selection by females is hypothesized to push these vocal features to individual performance limits.

In my research I use sound analysis software to manipulate trill rates of recorded songs beyond their natural ranges, in order to test questions about sexual selection and learning. My research addresses the following questions:


  • 1. Does vocal performance indicate the level of threat to receivers?
  • 2. What factors influence the development of female preferences earning, mate-choice copying, a bias for high performance?
  • 3. How does developmental stress affect adult male vocal performance?
  • 4. Does male feather color correlate with vocal performance and early experience?