The DuVal Lab - Home

Welcome to the DuVal Lab

Our research interests lie in the fields of behavioral ecology, population genetics, and in the role of sexual selection in evolutionary change. Members of the lab currently study the ways that multiple selective forces shape cooperation and competition in vertebrate groups, especially in birds. We are also particularly interested in the intersection of individual behavior and population genetics: the effect that mating systems have on local genetic patterns, the role of relatedness in interactions between individuals, and the use of genetic techniques to accurately assess breeding success in natural populations.

To date, many lab projects have used the lance-tailed manakin (Chiroxiphia lanceolata) as a model system. We also collaborate locally on research investigating cooperatively breeding brown-headed nuthatches (Sitta pusilla).

DuVal Lab commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

We are committed to increasing the sociocultural, and racial diversity in biology by providing an inclusive environment, in which everyone has equal opportunity to learn and conduct research regardless of background or differences in ability. We support equity in the STEM fields to promote quality science and a healthy society.

Lab News and Announcements

Hiring soon!  In late October we will open the search for the 2024 manakin field crew. We also hope to recruit a new PhD student for fall 2024, and are available to discuss postdoc options with researchers interested in developing a grant proposal that would use the long-term databases and/or genomic resources in our lab.            

Spring 2023

Emily received an NSF LTREB award that will fund our long-term investigation of how strong sexual selection does (and doesn't) change the wild manakin population. This means 5 more years of fieldwork on Isla Boca Brava, and a chance to dig deep into the long-term patterns that are emerging.

Daniel Gutiérrez decided to join the DuVal Lab, effective in fall 2023. He also secured an NSF GRFP and a McKnight Fellowship to augment his graduate training experience, published his first paper and took a few months to band birds at Palomarin Field Station.

Jenevieve and Emily published their paper investigating causes and consequences of nest site fidelity in lance-tailed manakins.

three undergraduate researchers stand near their posters at a research symposiumUROP students Connor, Emma, Nicholas, and Kaya presented their projects at the FSU Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Undergraduate researcher Traysea Malama-Auger received an FSU IDEA grant and was selected for an REU program at Harvard University. Among other adventures, her summer plans will kick-start her senior honors thesis investigating the possibility of duetting in brown-headed nuthatches.

UROP student Emma Abel landed her dream internship in the bird department of the Tampa Zoo, and UROP student Kaya Simmons accepted a summer position with the Lemmon Lab where she will explore her passion for neurobiology and behavior.

Spring 2022 - Congratulations graduates!

Meredith Kuzel completed her MSc thesis investigating determinants of telomere length variation in nestling lance-tailed manakins.

Yousi Espanol-Rincon completed her honors project investigating effects of maternal care in green lynx spiders at multiple developmental stages.

Jenevieve Norton completed her FSU WIMSE REP project (also supported by an FSU IDEA grant) investigating causes and consequences of nest site fidelity in lance-tailed manakins.

...and they all graduated from FSU this May!

Fall 2021

Congratulations to Natasza Fontaine who completed her MSc thesis investigating avian diversity in the Apalachicola National Forest. Next up, Natasza will be monitoring Whimbrel stopover ecology with the University of South Carolina, then continue to Ecuador to serve as temporary reserve manager for Reserva Las Tanagras in Mindo. We're not jealous. (JK, very jealous)

Spring 2020

This just out: Pearl's first paper from her PhD work! The work was also featured by an accompanying In Focus article in the Journal of Animal Ecology.

Also: We're alive!  It was a rough spring, including a catastrophic bus fire on the way to our field site in Panama, and fieldwork cut short by the pandemic. We're grateful for all the support we received as we recovered from losing half our research equipment. Thanks in particular to our amazing colleagues Mike Braun and Corey Tarwater for immediate assistance! We would have been back on our shaky feet with only minor delays if it weren't for that virus. Thanks too for members of the local community who helped us leave Panama before borders closed. We're grateful that our research team is safely back home, and that our friends and neighbors in Panama are safe as well. If you need us, we will be working on analyses and manuscripts from home between bouts of obsessively refreshing the news.   

Fall 2019

Blake, Pearl, and Emily headed to Brazil for a week of excellent science, brainstorming, and connecting with colleagues at Salto Morato Reserve during the 4th annual Manakin Genomics RCN meeting.  Elliot birded while we talked science, and made everyone jealous with >100 lifers. Highlight: watching Chiroxiphia caudata display alongside world authorities on C. caudata, C. pareola, C. boliviana, and C. lanceolata.     

Postdoctoral researchers Blake Jones accepted a job at Bennington College in Vermont, and will start there as an assistant professor in fall 2020! 

Former undergraduate researcher Leslie Nguyen began her first semester of medical school, right next door at the FSU College of Medicine.  Congratulations, Leslie!  

Summer 2019

Congratulations to Samantha Dietz, who defended her Master's thesis this summer and started a new job as researcher with Florida Natural Areas Inventory

Round two of the Best Field Course Ever took place in Panama this summer, with 10 intrepid students in the combined course in Tropical Behavioral Ecology and Experimental Biology.  Thanks to the generous support of the National Science Foundation (via CAREER award #1453408), we were able to make this one of the most affordable options available through FSU International Programs, and expanded participation with an NSF-supported scholarship that helped 2 students take part.            

Spring 2019

Congratulations to Dr. Carla Vanderbilt and Dr. Jessica Cusick who both defended their PhD work this semester!

Dr. Vanderbilt is now an assistant professor at the University of Pikeville.

Dr. Cusick is now an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow at Indiana University.   

Summer 2018

Looking forward to the conference season. We'll see you at ABS, ISBE, and IOC!

Congratulations to REU student Ivonne Mendietta, who received a Turner Award to attend the annual meeting of the Animal Behavior Society, presented her REU project, and was awarded 1st runner up recognition in the Genesis Award for outstanding undergraduate poster presentation!     

Spring 2018

We are now accepting applications for an NSF REU (Research Education for Undergraduates) position that will provide travel and 10 weeks of paid research support for one lucky undergraduate to work with us in Panama and in Tallahassee, FL. You can read details of the position HERE, and find the application form and instructions HERE. Applicants must be continuing undergraduates (they cannot graduate before July 15, 2018) at a US educational institution.

DuVal Lab and friends, celebrating Jess's manuscript acceptance in January 2018

Fall 2017

Weclome to Pearl Rivers, who joined the DuVal Lab as a PhD student. Pearl will be developing a project to investigate sexual selection in the lance-tailed manakin.

Summer 2017

Dr. Megan Jones successfully defended her dissertation, "Why dominant males cooperate - fitness consequences of cooperative courtship in a system with variable cooperative display coalitions." Congratulations, Dr. Jones!

Emily teamed up with Kevin Dixon to teach Tropical Behavioral Ecology and Experimental Biology in Panama this year, shaking up the usual data collection with new projects and adventures. Highlights included organizing a biodiversity fair at Boca Chica Primary School, spotting a snake almost every day (?!), snorkelling on Bolanos, hiking the Sendero Los Quetzales, and visiting Barro Colorado Island.        

Fall 2016
Welcome to Samantha Dietz who joined the DuVal lab this fall as a master's student. Samantha will be investigating factors affecting dispersal decisions in Brown-headed Nuthatches. Meredith Kuzel joined the lab as a full-time research technician, and will help manage the field crew this year in Panama.

Our lab will close this semester by hosting grad student invited speaker Dr. Renee Duckworth. Dr. Duckworth will be presenting her work at the Departmental Colloquium on Thursday, December 8, and the E&E seminar on Friday December 9, both in KIN 1024.

Summer 2016
Congratulations to Dr. Caroline Stahala, who successfully defended her dissertation "Social nesting behavior of the Bahama Parrot on Abaco Island and its conservation implications." Caroline will be continuing work as North Florida project manager for Audubon, Florida.

REU student Kylie Wilson presented her summer work at the Animal Behavior Society conference in Columbia, MO. Jess and Carla attended ISBE in Exeter, UK. Emily presented work at symposia at ABS and NAOC, and both Carla and Emily took part in the second annual meeting of the manakin genomics RCN.

Spring 2016
***REU applications are due February 2 for a paid independent research opportunity to study manakin behavior in Panama and at FSU. Access the full description HERE and the application form HERE.***

Carla presented her research in the Ecology & Evolution seminar series at FSU, fulfilling one of her final remaining PhD requirements. Jess managed a successful crowdunding campaign to support her dissertation work - thank you to those who donated!

Jess received good fundings news from several sources, and was awarded research funds from the Florida Ornithological Society and American Ornithologists' Union.

Fall 2015
Jess passed her prelims and advanced to Ph.D. candidacy! Emily is actively searching for one postdoctoral researcher and one graduate student to join the manakin project, and rounded off a semester of much teaching with an invited research seminar at Princeton University, hosted by Christina Riehl.

Summer 2015
Congratulations to Carla who was awarded an NSF Doctoral Dissertaiton Improvement Grant (DDIG) to support her dissertation work on variation in the performance of complex courtship displays. What's more, Carla's first publication from her dissertation research has been accepted for publication in the journal Animal Behaviour!

Megan, Carla, and Emily presented their research at the Animal Behavior Society meeting in Anchorage, and Emily was honored to receive this year's Outstanding New Investigator Award. Emily and Carla attended the first Manakin Genomics RCN meeting in Front Royal, VA.

Spring 2015
Ooh, it was a good spring. Emily was awarded tenure at FSU and will be an associate professor as of August, 2015! She also got positive funding news from: the National Geographic Society, which is funding this year's work on maternal investment; the National Science Foundation which is funding her CAREER proposal to study disruptive selection on cooperation in manakins; an NSF Research Coordination Network that establishes a collaboration of more than 30 researchers to investigate manakin genomics and sexual selection (lead PI: Bette Loiselle at UF); and FSU summer support for preliminary work investigating genetic variation in male manakins. She also received an FSU University Teaching Award; and was named an FSU Critical Thinking Faculty Fellow, an honor that comes with thought-provoking opportunities to enhance the teaching of critical thinking skills in upper-level undergraduate courses. Plus, both Emily and Jess had awesome field seasons. Really. Good. Spring.

Fall 2014
Jess spent a productive week learning lab techniques with Dr. Ryan Earley at U. of Alabama. Jess and Emily headed to the AOU meeting in Estes Park, CO to present recent work.

Summer 2014
Megan and Emily presented their work at ISBE in New York City, and Megan's first publication from her PhD was accepted for publication in the Auk!

Spring 2014
Caroline Stahala accepted a job as Panhandle project manager for Audubon Florida, and will be putting her skills to work for shorebird conservation in North Florida.

Fall 2013
Jessica Cusick joined the lab as an incoming Ph.D. student, and is developing project ideas that investigate cooperative breeding in brown-headed nuthatches.

Spring 2013
Dr. J. Patrick Kelley joined the lab as a postdoctoral fellow, and began his research on nesting success and reproductive physiology in lance-tailed manakins.

Excellent news on the grant application front! Megan Jones was awarded an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant AND an Animal Behavior Society Student Research Award for her work on the benefits of cooperation for dominant male white-ruffed manakins.

Carla Vanderbilt and Megan Jones both received AOU Research Awards to support their independent dissertation research.

Lab alumni news: Former undergraduate researcher Megan Mayo received a NSF GRFP for her work on raptor color variation in the Hull lab at UC Davis; and former field assistant Blake Jones was awarded an AOU Research Award for his work on stress physiology of Florida Scrub Jays in the Schoech Lab at U. Memphis (and got his own NSF GRFP in 2012). If other lab alumni have updates to add, please email Emily!

Spring 2012
Dr. Rebecca Sardell joined the lab as a postdoctoral fellow, and began her research on the fitness consequences of mate choice in lance-tailed manakins.

Caroline Stahala received a FSU International Dissertation Semester Research Fellowship that will allow her to extend this year's field season in the Bahamas.

Undergraduate researcher Alan Moss completed a directed independent study project on provisioning behavior in cooperative and non-cooperative groups of brown-headed nuthatches.

December 2011
Megan Jones completed her prelims exam and advanced to Ph.D. candidacy.

November 2011
Visiting speaker Dr. Rebecca Sardell presented her work on song sparrow reproductive success. The fourth annual DuVal Lab evening at the North Florida Fair resulted in many roller-coaster rides but unusually low representation in the pig races.

October 2011
Caroline Stahala passed her prelims exam and advanced to Ph.D. candidacy.

The lab had the pleasure of hosting visiting speakers Dr. Eileen Hebets and Dr. Maria Servedio.

Carla received an award from the Horace Loftin Endowmnet to support the start of her independent research in Panama. Caroline and Megan were awarded Robert B. Short Scholarships from the FSU Department of Biological Science to support research-related coursework off campus.

August 2011
Carla Vanderbilt joined the lab as a Ph.D. student. Carla brings with her a coveted NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, which will help her complete her planned fieldwork in Panama.

May 2011
Megan Mayo completed and successfully defended her undergraduate honors thesis on lance-tailed manakin duetting behavior.

October 2010
Caroline Stahala and Aubrey Sirman presented research results at the Florida Ornithological Society meeting at Tall Timbers Research Station. Emily and Megan J. enjoyed the talks and the local birding trips.

September 2010
Megan Mayo's summer research and honors thesis work on lance-tailed manakin vocalizations was featured as a campus Student Profile.

August 2010
Emily Hutchinson joined the lab as research technician for the fall semester.

July 2010
DuVal Lab road trip to the Animal Behavior Society conference in Williamsburg, VA: Megan Jones, Megan Mayo, Sam, Julian, and Emily attended, all presenting work on lance-tailed manakins. Megan Mayo received an honorable mention in the undergraduate poster competition. Congrats, Megan! From the conference, Sam headed to Rota for fieldwork with the Ha lab of Univeristy of Washington.

May 2010
Congratulations to Caroline Stahala on the success of several recent funding applications! Caroline received independent research grants from the Florida Ornithological Society, Parrots International, and Islands by Design and Schooner Bay in the Bahamas to support her work on group structure in the Bahama Parrot.

April 2010
Congratulations to Megan Jones, who received a coveted NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program award, and to Jessica Lux who earned an honorable mention in the GRFP competition!

Undergraduate researcher Megan Mayo received a prestigious URCAA award to study lance-tailed manakin vocalizations in Panama this summer, and will be continuing this project for her honors thesis research.

November 2009
Kudos from the Department of Biological Science annual awards ceremony: Megan and Caroline both received research awards from the Horace Loftin Endowment, which will help to fund their spring field seasons. Emily received the Loretta C. Ellias Award for Undergraduate Teaching.

August 2009
Graduate students Megan Jones and Jessica Lux joined the DuVal lab; Samantha Lantz joined the lab as a summer research technician and spring field crew leader.

Spring 2009
Fieldwork all around! Maria visited the Isla Boca Brava fieldsite and finally got her hands on a manakin; Caroline headed to the Bahamas for a summer of fieldwork; Aubrey was happily interning at Tall Timbers Research Station

December 2008
The research content of the lab website is now available in Spanish (thanks, Maria!)

November 2008
Maria Wieselmann joined the lab as interm lab manager

September 2008
Aubrey Sirman joined the lab as a DIS student

August 2008
Caroline Stahala joined the DuVal Lab