Office of Undergraduate Research

The Function of Bird Colors

We are studying why many species of birds are brightly colored. We study this question from both proximate (individual) and evolutionary (across many species) perspectives. For this particular project, we will examine the color of about 1000 species of birds to see what ecological and life history factors are correlated with coloration. This will mostly involve literature searches (for ecological and other data) and statistical analysis of our existing color database. Students will learn how to use advanced statistical techniques to answer broad evolutionary questions.

Tasks and responsibilities:

Students will be involved in searching through the literature for data on the ecology and life history of different species, entering the data in the computer and analyzing it with the statistical package, R. On completion of the project, students often present a poster on the final results at the annual research symposium.