Laurel B. Symes, Ph.D.

Dr. Laurel Symes
Dr. Laurel Symes

My research focuses on the community ecology of communication: the way that interactions within and between species affect the production and perception of signals. To address these questions, I study a variety of taxa including crickets, katydids, frogs, bats and birds. My current research focuses on modeling phenological patterns in bird activity and understanding why birds sing when they do. To quantify singing activity, I am using automated recording and machine learning approaches to find and identify bird calls from a network of recorders in Sapsucker Woods and in Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire.

Previously, I have held post-doctoral positions at Dartmouth College (Neukom Fellowship), the University of Wisconsin and the Smithsonian Institute for Tropical Research. I completed my PhD at Dartmouth College and a B.S. in Biology at Denison University.

Year Hired: 2018

Contact Information
K. Lisa Yang Center for Conservation Bioacoustics
Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Room #148
159 Sapsucker Woods Road, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA
Phone: +1.607.254.2405

Ph.D., Dartmouth College, 2013
B.S., Denison University, 2007

Recent Publications

Symes, L.B. et al. (2022) ‘Analytical approaches for evaluating passive acoustic monitoring data: A case study of avian vocalizations’, Ecology and Evolution, 12(4), p. e8797. Available at:
Calsbeek, R., Zamora-Camacho, F.J. and Symes, L.B. (2022) ‘Individual contributions to group chorus dynamics influence access to mating opportunities in wood frogs’, Ecology Letters, n/a(n/a). Available at:
Palmer, C.M. et al. (2022) ‘Patterns of Herbivory in Neotropical Forest Katydids as Revealed by DNA Barcoding of Digestive Tract Contents’, Diversity, 14(2), p. 152. Available at:
Vega-Hidalgo, Á. et al. (2021) ‘Acoustic assessment of experimental reforestation in a Costa Rican rainforest’, Ecological Indicators, 133, p. 108413. Available at:
Symes, L.B. et al. (2021) ‘Daily Signaling Rate and the Duration of Sound per Signal are Negatively Related in Neotropical Forest Katydids’, Integrative and Comparative Biology [Preprint], (icab138). Available at:
ter Hofstede, H.M. et al. (2020) ‘Calling songs of katydids (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae) from Panama’, Journal of Orthopteran Research. [Preprint].
Muñoz, V.E. et al. (2020) ‘Gone with the wind: Signal timing in a Neotropical katydid as an adaptive response to variation in wind-induced vibratory noise’, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 74(59). Available at:
Symes, L.B. et al. (2020) ‘Sheep in wolves’ clothing: prey rely on proactive defences when predator and non-predator cues are similar’, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 287. Available at:
Symes, L.B. and Wheatley, T. (2019) ‘Random is not real: How the patchy distribution of ecological rewards may generate incentive hope. Editorially-selected commentary’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 42.
Symes, L.B. et al. (2019) ‘Applying and refining DNA analysis to determine the identity of plant material extracted from the digestive tracts of katydids’, Peer J, 7(e6808). Available at:
Kopp, M. et al. (2018) ‘Mechanisms of assortative mating in speciation: connecting theory and empirical research’, The American Naturalist, 191, pp. 1–20.
Symes, L.B. (2018) ‘Spatial and temporal variation in three call traits and preferences of the tree cricket Oecanthus forbesi’, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 72(35).
Fitzpatrick, C.L. et al. (2018) ‘Theory meets empiry: a citation network analysis’, Bioscience, 68(10), pp. 805–812.
Symes, L.B. et al. (2018) ‘From understory to canopy: In situ behavior of Neotropical forest katydids in response to free-flying bats’, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 6(27).