Karan Odom

Postdoctoral Fellow

I am interested in how animals evolved the wide range of complex behaviors we see in nature, such as the intricate songs of songbirds. I study how songbirds evolved their complex songs, and why female birds, in addition to male birds, sing.

I also manage a citizen-science project called the Female Bird Song Project. This project aims to increase awareness that female songbirds of many species sing, and promotes the archiving of female bird songs in sound collections.

I study the evolution of elaborate traits in female as well as male animals. I am especially interested in how complex vocal communication, such as bird song, evolves and, specifically, the selection pressures that act on females versus males to select for these traits. I use large-scale phylogenetic reconstruction and comparative methods to examine evolutionary patterns of bird song across female and male songbirds of many different species. I combine this information with field-based methods to assess the function and selection pressures acting on female song and duets of mated pairs.

At the Cornell Lab, I’m using the Lab’s Macaulay Library to compare evolutionary patterns of song structure in male and female songbirds. I’m working with Mike Webster, director of the Macaulay Library and Irby Lovette, director of the Fuller Evolutionary Biology Program.


Ph.D., Biological Sciences, University of Maryland
M.S., Biological Sciences, University of Windsor
B.A., Zoology, Ohio Wesleyan University

Recent Publications

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