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The Wright Lab :: New Mexico State University
updated February 19, 2017

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Welcome to the Avian Communication
and Evolution Lab

Research in the Wright Lab focuses on the function and evolution of vocal communication in parrots. Across the animal kingdom, the ability to learn vocal signals is restricted to a few evolutionarily distinct groups (songbirds, hummingbirds and parrots among birds; humans, bats and whales among mammals). Parrots are renowned for their vocal mimicry abilities in captivity, but less is known about how learning is used in the wild. Thus parrots present exciting opportunities for understanding how learning shapes communication behavior, how the function of learned vocalizations might differ between species, and how the underlying neural and endocrine mechanisms have evolved.

These core interests have expanded through the years to encompass a variety of related topics including phylogenetic relationships in parrots, the evolution of long lifespans and high cognitive abilities, and the role of behavioral flexibility in species invasions and conservation. These questions are approached collaboratively with other researchers and organizations. We tackle these questions through a broad range of approaches including field observations, sound analysis, telemetry, captive studies, playback experiments, comparative studies, population genetics and molecular systematics. Students in my lab make use of these techniques or adopt new ones as appropriate to investigate their own questions in avian behavior and evolution.

Research support by

Timothy F. Wright
Dept of Biology
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces,
NM 88003-8001
(575) 646-1136

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