Dena J. Clink, Ph.D.

Dena J. Clink, Ph.D.
Dena J. Clink, Ph.D.

My principal scientific interests are in the behavioral ecology and evolution of acoustic signals. My research focuses on primate acoustic communication from a comparative and evolutionary perspective. I aim to answer questions related to the evolution and maintenance of vocal diversity in primates using innovative bioacoustics techniques, with an emphasis on testing new technology and drawing from diverse fields such as human speech recognition, machine learning and signal processing. I am particularly interested in the evolutionary mechanisms that shape variation in primate vocal communication systems, and understanding the function of primate vocalizations, as this can help us understand the evolution of communication in our own species.

My research questions can be broken up into four main themes, and I believe that these questions are fundamental to understanding the evolution of primate vocal communication and the origins of communication in our own species:

  • Patterns of variation: How do primate vocalizations vary within and between individuals and across populations?
  • Evolution of vocal variation: Which evolutionary processes better explain the observed patterns variation?
  • Function of primate calls: Why do only pair-bonded primates duet? What is the function of the duet? Why do primates call at certain times of day?
  • Conservation applications: How can passive acoustic monitoring be used to improve primate conservation efforts?

I was awarded a Ph.D. in Evolutionary Anthropology (with a specialization in Primatology) from the University of California, Davis, in December 2017 where I was coadvised by Dr. Meg Crofoot and Dr. Andrew Marshall. I recently completed a Fulbright ASEAN U.S. Scholar grant where I held a joint position as a lab associate with the Bioacoustics Research Program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I am currently the lead scientist for the Southeast Asia Project at the K. Lisa Yang Center for Conservation Bioacoustics at the Cornell Lab.

Year Hired: 2018

Contact information
K. Lisa Yang Center for Conservation Bioacoustics
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Road, , USA

Ph.D., University of California, Davis, 2017

Clink, D.J. et al. (2021) ‘Moderate evidence for heritability in the duet contributions of a South American primate’, Journal of Evolutionary Biology, n/a(n/a).
Clink, D.J. et al. (2021) ‘Limited evidence for individual signatures or site-level patterns of variation in male Northern gray gibbon (Hylobates funereus) duet codas’, International Journal of Primatology [Preprint]. doi:
Clink, D. et al. (2021) ‘Not by the light of the moon: Investigating circadian rhythms and environmental predictors of calling in Bornean great argus’, PLoS ONE, 16(2), p. e0246564. doi:
Clink, D.J. and Klinck, H. (2020) ‘Unsupervised acoustic classification of individual gibbon females and the implications for passive acoustic monitoring’, Methods in Ecology and Evolution [Preprint].
Clink, D.J. and Lau, A.R. (2020) ‘Adherence to Menzerath’s Law is the exception (not the rule) in three duetting primate species’, Royal Society Open Science, 7(11).
Sethi, S.S. et al. (2020) ‘Characterizing soundscapes across diverse ecosystems using a universal acoustic feature set’, PNAS [Preprint].
Clink, D.J., Tasirin, J.S. and Klinck, H. (2020) ‘Vocal individuality and rhythm in male and female duet contributions of a nonhuman primate’, Current Zoology, 66(2), pp. 173–186.
Lau, A.R., Clink, D.J. and Bales, K.L. (2020) ‘Individuality in the vocalizations of infant and adult coppery titi monkeys (Plecturocebus cupreus)’, American Journal of Primatology [Preprint].
Clink, D.J., Hamid Ahmad, A. and Klinck, H. (2020) ‘Brevity is not a universal in animal communication: evidence for compression depends on the unit of analysis in small ape vocalizations’, Royal Society Open Science, 7(4).
Clink, D.J., Hamid Ahmad, A. and Klinck, H. (2020) ‘Gibbons aren’t singing in the rain: presence and amount of rainfall influences ape calling behavior in Sabah, Malaysia’, Scientific Reports, 10(1282).
Clink, D.J., Lau, A.R. and Bales, K.L. (2019) ‘Age-related changes and vocal convergence in titi monkey duet pulses’, Behaviour [Preprint].
Clink, D.J., Tasirin, J.S. and Klinck, H. (2019) ‘Vocal individuality and rhythm in male and female duet contributions of a nonhuman primate’, Current Zoology [Preprint].
Clink, D.J. et al. (2018) ‘Evidence for vocal performance constraints in a female nonhuman primate’, Animal Behaviour, 141, pp. 85–94.