Ecology & Evolution of Avian Alarm Call Signaling

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Alexis’s research interests are focused on the ecology and evolu-tion of animal signaling systems, specifically the alarm call signaling systems in birds. When presented with a potential predator, birds will give alarm calls to com-municate the presence of a potential predator. These calls are species-specific and can be altered to encode vast amounts of information about the predator and its threat level. Within alarm calls, her research is focused on how birds are assessing risk, en-coding this information in their alarm calls and how this information is being used by other species to assess risk. Her work is on wild, free-living birds in the Missoula Valley, MT and Methow Valley, WA. This research revealed that even though alarm calls are often regarded as acoustically simple, they can be altered to encode im-portant information about predators and this information is being used in asymmet-rical ways by multiple species in a communication network about danger.

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Alexis Billings is a PhD candidate in the Organismal Biology and Ecology program in the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of Montana. She holds a BA from the University of Colorado – Boulder in Psychology in 2006. Various jobs and experiences exposed her to animal behavior and communi-cation which lead her to switch to Biology.