Sharpened Perception: Sensory Diversity of Neotropical Birds (Brazil, Peru, Panama)


Sharpened Perception: Sensory Diversity of Neotropical Birds (Brazil, Peru, Panama)


Research Question

1) How and why do manakins (small tropical birds) perform courtship displays that are too rapid for the human eye (but not the birds) to detect? 2) Can educational outreach programs help endangered Andean Black-and-chestnut Eagles?


1) Manakins (Neotropical birds) are unique in the animal kingdom in having male-male cooperation among non-relatives for courtship display for females. Understanding the dynamics of their social interactions and their elaborate courtship displays will improve our understanding of the evolution of cooperative behavior among non-kin. Documenting the diversity of courtship displays in the 51 species of manakins in the Neotropics will enhance our understanding and appreciation of one of the most biodiverse regions of the planet. 2) Black-and-chestnut eagles are emblems of the cloudforests of the Andes, requiring large tracts of forest and sometimes coming into conflict with humans. A particular threat is the killing of eagles that prey on domestic chickens. By understanding the habits of the eagles, and by working with local communities to reduce human-eagle conflicts, we can increase the likelihood that these spectacular birds will persist in the South American Andes.

Methods Used

1) High-speed video analysis to detect movements too rapid for the human eye. Social network analyses to understand the complex social behavior of male manakins, who cooperate in courtship displays with other males. 2) Educating chicken farmers about alternatives to killing the eagles that sometimes prey on their chickens. Monitoring the movements and nesting behavior of the eagles, including webcams at known nest sites.


1) Better understanding of the perceptual abilities and social behavior of manakins (Neotropical birds). 2) Enhanced likelihood of persistence for endangered Andean cloudforest Black-and-chestnut Eagles.

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Behavior and Ethology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Other Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Sharpened Perception: Sensory Diversity of Neotropical Birds (Brazil, Peru, Panama)


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