Russell Ligon

Postdoctoral Fellow


Animal Communication • Animal Color • Animal Behavior • Parent-Offspring Communication

I am a scientist interested in the causes and consequences of complexity in animal signaling systems. For my Ph.D., I examined dynamic color signaling in chameleons with Kevin McGraw at Arizona State University. I came to the Cornell Lab to work on the unique collection of bird-of-paradise natural history recordings in the Macaulay Library. I examine complexity in animal signals by studying the extreme displays of birds-of-paradise as well as the territory marking and singing behavior of house mice.

I think it is incredibly valuable to better understand our natural world and the biological diversity it contains!


Ph.D., Arizona State University

Recent Publications

Miller, E. T., G. M. Leighton, B. G. Freeman, A. C. Lees, and R. A. Ligon (2020). Reply to "Convergent and divergent selection in sympatry drive plumage evolution in woodpeckers." Nature Communications 11:1–3.
Miller, E. T., G. M. Leighton, B. G. Freeman, A. C. Lees, and R. A. Ligon (2019). Ecological and geographical overlap drive plumage evolution and mimicry in woodpeckers. Nature Communications 10.
Ligon, R. A., C. D. Diaz, J. L. Morano, J. Troscianko, M. Stevens, A. Moskeland, T. G. Laman, and E. Scholes III (2018). Evolution of correlated complexity in the radically different courtship signals of birds-of-paradise. PLOS Biology 16:e2006962.
Ligon, R. A., and K. J. McGraw (2018). A chorus of color: Hierarchical and graded information content of rapid color change signals in chameleons. Behavioral Ecology 29:1075–1087.
Webster, M. S., R. A. Ligon, and G. M. Leighton (2018). Social costs are an underappreciated force for honest signalling in animal aggregations. Animal Behaviour.
Miller, E. T., G. M. Leighton, B. G. Freeman, A. C. Lees, and R. A. Ligon (2018). Climate, habitat, and geographic range overlap drive plumage evolution. bioRxiv:375261.
Weaver, M., R. A. Ligon, M. Mousel, and K. J. McGraw (2018). Avian anthrophobia? Behavioral and physiological responses of house finches (Haemorhous mexicanus) to human and predator threats across an urban gradient. Landscape and Urban Planning 179:46–54.
Ligon, R. A., R. K. Simpson, N. A. Mason, G. E. Hill, and K. J. McGraw (2016). Evolutionary innovation and diversification of carotenoid-based pigmentation in finches: Evolution 70:2839–2852.
Ligon, R. A., and K. J. McGraw (2016). Social costs enforce honesty of a dynamic signal of motivation. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 283:20161873.
Ligon, R. A., and M. W. Butler (2016). Body mass and immune function, but not bill coloration, predict dominance in female mallards. Behavioural Processes 131:59–67.

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