Laurel Symes

Assistant Director


Bioacoustics • Ecology • Evolution

I study biological communities using acoustics. I am interested in understanding the evolution of animal signals, the process of communication, and how we can use computer algorithms to detect animal signals to monitor and study populations.

To address these questions, I study animals including crickets, katydids, frogs, bats, and birds. My current research focuses on modeling phenological patterns in bird activity to understand when birds arrive and begin to sing; and how the singing activity of one individual influences the singing patterns of other individuals and species across a landscape.

To quantify singing activity, I use automated recording and machine-learning approaches to find and identify bird calls from a network of recorders in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Sapsucker Woods and in the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire.


Ph.D., Biology, Dartmouth College
B.S., Biology, Denison University

Outside the Lab

I received my tree climbing certification through Cornell and now climb trees in Panama as part of my research. This does not eliminate my dislike of heights.

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