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 co-advised 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 Cornell University. I am currently a postdoctoral scientist at Cornell University on a collaborative project between The Nature Conservancy and Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future.