The Animal Behavior Podcast

E08: Jeff Podos on Bird Beaks, Song Evolution, and Performance Constraints

September 28, 2021 Season 1 Episode 8
The Animal Behavior Podcast
E08: Jeff Podos on Bird Beaks, Song Evolution, and Performance Constraints
Show Notes

Episode Summary:

In this episode, Amy speaks with Jeff Podos, a Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst and a previous President of the Animal Behavior Society.

They start out discussing how a diet of fruit can explain elaborate sexual ornamentation in animals. Then, we learn about Jeff's work on Darwin's finches in the Galápagos Islands. They also talk about what drives bellbirds to sing such piercingly loud songs.

After the break, Amy and Jeff talk about his new approach to teaching Animal Behavior (sparked by the pandemic), and his recent sabbatical in Brazil. They close by discussing the future of the field of animal behavior.

This week's Two-Minute Takeaway comes from Ellen Pasternack (@EllenPasternack), a final year PhD student at The University of Oxford. She studies the mechanisms of sexual selection through behavioral observation of domestic chickens and their ancestor species, the red junglefowl. She's particularly interested in the role of female resistance to mating attempts. 

Select papers relevant to today's show:

1. Costs, constraints, and sexual trait elaboration
2. Extremely loud mating songs at close range in white bellbirds
3. Correlated evolution of morphology and vocal signal structure in Darwin's finches


The Animal Behavior Podcast is created by Matthew Zipple (@MatthewZipple) and Amy Strauss (@avstrauss). If you like what you heard, please subscribe wherever you’re listening now, leave us a rating or review, and share us with your friends and colleagues.

You can contact us at and find us on Twitter (@AnimalBehavPod). Our Communications Director is Casey Patmore (@paseycatmore).

Our theme song is by Sally Street (@Rainbow_Road13), Assistant Professor in Evolutionary Anthropology at Durham University in the UK. You can find her on Sound Cloud here:

Musical transitions by André Gonçalves (@fieryangelsfell), a Researcher at the Primate Research Institute at Kyoto University.

Our logo was designed by Adeline Durand-Monteil (@adelinedurandm), a Master’s Student in Ecology and Evolution. You can see more of Adeline's work on her website:

The Animal Behavior Podcast is produced with support from the Animal Behavior Society (@AnimBehSociety).