I work at the intersection of evolution, ecology, and behavior. One of the phenomena I study is the flow of information between species, especially communication. Sending and receiving information presents several problems: it is very important, but how do you send messages to just the right recipients, and how do you know that messages you receive are honest? What happens when it works just right, and what happens if things go wrong? Living things must deal with these questions just like humans must.
Communication can aid in the evolution of mutualism, such as insects that pollinate flowering plants in exchange for nectar. It can also evolve between organisms that at first glance appear to have no common interests. Prey sometimes talk to their predators in the form of warning signals that indicate defenses. But coevolutionary "information warfare" may ensue if deceptive mimics or eavesdroppers interfere with the exchange of signals.
I use 1) field work, 2) mathematical modeling, 3) museum specimens, and 4) lab work to understand the function & structure of signals, how selection shapes their phenotypes, and how communication impacts ecology.
I am also interested in avian community ecology and the spread of social information, which I study from theoretical and quantitative perspectives.