Dr. Anna Perry
A hearty congratulations to Anna Perry, former graduate student in Gail’s lab, for finally seeing the publication of her first major paper from her dissertation. Check out the July American Naturalist to see the paper and for links to the supplementary materials.
This project started with questions about using the 2nd generation sage-grouse robots to study how males respond to signals of interest or disinterest from females. Our first robot experiments employed a less dynamic robot and we mainly adjusted the proximity to males rather than the robot’s posture or movements. The newer robots that Gail developed with several engineers (Jose Mojica, Scott McKibben, and Jonathan Tran) were more mobile and could simulate pecking at the ground as well as looking around. We anticipated that these simulated behaviors would trick males into thinking we
The journey of this paper started with Anna planning and supervising a series of experiments on the sage-grouse leks in Wyoming, trying test males repeatedly with the robot expressing more or less interested behavior. She also had to design a study to record the behavior of live female sage-grouse to ensure that the movements we had the robot carry out actually relate to live females (this will be a second paper hopefully coming out soon). But in spite of all the work to conduct these studies in the field, and to work with numerous UC Davis undergraduates in the lab to collect data from the resulting video tapes, this turned out to be the quick part of the project.
Anna realized that to really answer questions about how hard a male was willing to work, she needed to rethink how we talk about the sequence of displays that a male sage-grouse performs on the lek. Rather than simply summarizing numbers of struts or simple rates or averages, Anna worked with Richard McElreath and Dave Harris to formulate these bouts of behavior as sequences with probabilities of either continuing in a high-intensity bout or transitioning out of a bout into a rest period (I’m somewhat simplifying here). To write the code to analyze the sage-grouse display data, as well set up simulated data sets to show this technique offer tangible advantages to traditional display metrics, took several additional years! Yes, years!
The result of all this is a published product that is among the most careful and meticulous I’ve ever been a part of. Way to go Anna!
Photo: Gail Patricelli
I’ll use this page to attempt to maintain this as a list of photos that have been picked up by various media outlets and non-profits. Most of these appear on my Flickr account. Most are available for non-commercial use (check the license), so if you see something you’d like to use, please let me know!
Center for Biological Diversity
Boise State Public Radio [here, here, here]
Yale Environment 360.
Nature Conservancy Blog [here , here]
National Audubon Society Action alert [here]
Genome Biology and Evolution
Golden Gate Audubon 2015-2016 Annual Report, 2019 Calendar.
Berkeleyside [here, here]
Super-moon photo sent to BLM-Wyoming, National BLM, and Department of Interior. instagram accounts.
East Richmond Heights Art and Music Festival 2017, 2018.
California Raptor Center
Some papers bloom quickly from concept to publication, while others resemble periodic cicadas, spending years growing in the shadows before finally emerging into the light of day many years later. An example of the former is the technical review that our collaborator Jen Forbey is leading. This paper is the outcome of our workshop at the International Grouse Symposium in Iceland last summer, and our revisions are nearing completion.
As an example of the latter, take the review on within-individual trait variability that is now available online early in Advances in the Study of Behavior. Gail first conceived of this paper as a postdoctoral scholar at Cornell, and the paper became a framework for some of our early grant proposals with the sage-grouse. At that point we turned our attention to empirical work with the grouse, and developing a more specific framework for interactions on the lek that became it’s own review. Now, with the help of Gail’s former graduate student (and before that, grouse intern), Conor Taff, we’ve finally finished!
Science is sometimes slow- case in point our recently published paper on left-right side biases in social behaviors in the sage grouse. The idea for this paper first surfaced in 2010 at the International Ornithological Congress in Campos do Jordao in Brazil. Gail and I saw a couple of plenary talks related to visual fields and left/right biases. From that we had a year or so of data collection from our videos, then about 2 years of cycles of submitting a manuscript, waiting for reviews, revising, resubmitting, etc etc etc. Feels great to finally have this out!
Thanks again to Emily, Michelle, Jennifer and Tawny who were undergraduates who helped figure out how to sample and measure the side biases, and Melissa (former Masters student) who spearheaded our collection of agonistic behaviors.
Link to paper
Lateral biases in behaviours are common across animals. Greater laterality may be beneficial if it allows for more efficient neural processing, yet few studies have considered the possible importance of indi- vidual variation in lateral biases in wild animals, particularly for social behaviours. We examined lateral biases in lekking greater sage-grouse, Centrocercus urophasianus, a species in which males show lateral orientations during aggressive encounters and courtship interactions. For aggression, we found no sig- nificant lateral bias in fights, but when examining another agonistic behaviour, the side-to-side facing- past encounter, we found a left-eye bias but only in males that successfully mated with females. For courtship behaviour, we found that successfully mating males were more strongly lateralized than nonmating males, but the direction of laterality depended on whether males were using their binocular frontal field (left-eye bias) or monocular lateral hemifield (right-eye bias). Bias depended on social context as well; nonmating males showed a bias in courtship orientation only when far from the female. Our results reveal a complex pattern of laterality depending on the mating success of the male, his behaviour and the social environment in which he is acting. We found support for the hypothesis that greater laterality may be beneficial, although the mechanism for this relationship in this species remains unknown.
Usually I’m posting my own photos here, but the tables have turned. Gail, Conor and I are finishing up a review paper, and would like some photos of some of the animals we mention in the paper. If you have pretty photos of any of the following (that you’d be willing to donate), please let me know ASAP via email.
Praying Mantis: Pseudomantis albofimbriata
wolf spiders (ideally MALES) Schizocosa rovneri
Either of the following anoles, ideally displaying on a tree trunk
Anolis cristatellus or A. gundlachi
Spotted egg butterfly Hypolimnas bolina ideally flying over a female
calling gray tree frog Hyla versicolor (still Hyla, right?)