I'm interested in studying the evolution, behavior, and mechanics of silent flight in owls. I am currently analyzing features associated with silent flight in correlation to hunting strategy (prey type, active hours, etc.) using museum specimens. In the future, I will study features associated with silent flight and how they affect the sounds produced by the owl wing.
Using a hummingbird hybrid zone between Allen’s (Selasphorus sasin) and Rufous (Selasphorus rufus) Hummingbird, I am studying sexual display behavior of each species across the area of contact and throughout their ranges. My research aims to study how genetics, morphology, and behavior vary across a hybrid zone and to potentially discover the genomic regions associated with a novel, unlearned behavior in Allen’s Hummingbird. To achieve these goals, I conduct field work to record displays, capture the individual performing the observed displays, and perform genetic and morphological analyses to look for correlations between genes in each individual and their phenotype (behavior and morphology).
I am interested in the role of individual variation in locomotor performance during courtship, and how this might reflect variation in male fitness. Acrobatic courtship displays may advertise quality through demonstrations of challenging whole-organism behaviors (e.g., locomotion [Byers et al., 2010]). Hummingbirds provide an excellent system because they perform aerial courtship displays which seem to push the limits of their flight abilities (Clark, 2009). Black-chinned hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) males perform courtship dives and close-range “shuttle” displays (Feo and Clark, 2010), during which wingbeat frequency increases relative to hovering while the bird agilely flies from side to side within 1 meter of a female (Baltosser and Russell, 2000; Feo and Clark, 2010). My dissertation will investigate the role of flight performance during courtship signaling, and the effect of individual variation of courtship-flight displays on male fitness (i.e., offspring sired) using microsatellite loci for paternity analysis. My research takes place in the lab and in the field around UC Riverside and at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont.
I'm interested in studying behavioral ecology and animal communication. My research centers on the inter-play between sound, behavior, kinematics, and perception. I am currently studying hummingbird hearing and perception and hope to develop methods of studying hearing as well as methods of researching timbre and temporal perception in female hummingbirds. In the future I hope to create an audiogram and a real-time filter that will help us understand what hummingbird females perceive.
I'm currently working on a range of projects in the lab, ranging from examining hummingbird tail feather shapes to studying birds in the field. This past year I've collecting fecal samples from hummingbirds on the Channel Island to examine seasonal diet shifts, investigated interactions between hummingbirds and invasive Argentine Ants, and conducted a geometric morphometric analysis of hummingbird tail feathers. In the coming year I'll be tracking migratory hummingbirds through California and collecting samples to examine how pathogens are spread at floral resources.
Lilly studies Allen's hummingbirds and their mating system
Studies hybridization in hummingbirds (Anna's x Costa's, Black-chinned x Ruby-throated, and Rufous x Allen's). Officially Elisa is Alan Brelsford's student, but she studies hummingbirds, meaning she's one of us.