Belated news: New paper in PRSB

I forgot to post that Matt Wilkins et al.'s paper now out in Proceedings of the Royal Society-B. We describe a phenotype network approach to understanding multimodal signal systems, using the barn swallow as a case study. This is one of the chapters of Matt's dissertation that he completed at CU Boulder, but it is also a big part of his current postdoc project in our lab/Hebets lab at UNL. Matt is now looking to apply this type of thinking to multimodal/multicomponent signals in wolf spiders. 

Visiting PhD Student - Eli Strauss

posted Oct 25, 2017, 12:31 PM by Laura Vander Meiden

This past month, Eli has been visiting from the Holekamp Lab at Michigan State University. He is working with Dai on the emergence of dominance hierarchies in juvenile spotted hyenas and the relationship between reproductive timing and hyena social networks.

Welcome Laura!

posted Sep 2, 2016, 8:40 AM by Dai Shizuka   [ updated Sep 2, 2016, 8:42 AM ]

A belated welcome to Laura Vander Meiden, who joined our lab as a Ph.D. student a couple of weeks ago. She went out to the field to the Yukon this summer with fellow lab member Emily Hudson. Now she is settled into Lincoln and ready to come up with the next great idea!
Check out her fantastic blog:

New Paper in Animal Behaviour

posted Jan 29, 2016, 6:56 AM by Dai Shizuka   [ updated Jan 29, 2016, 6:57 AM ]

Dai has a new paper in Animal Behaviour, co-authored with Damien Farine of the Max Planck Institute. The paper presents a method to assess the robustness of 'community assignment' procedures to detect social clusters in networks. The assignment of nodes to network communities is a popular method to understand the structure of societies and has implications for the evolution of social dynamics. However, there are some potential pitfalls when trying to use bootstrapping to assess the robustness of community assignments. We propose a way to combine bootstrapping with a measure of assortativity to determine whether community assignments are robust given a certain sample of observations. We find that the robustness of community assignment is contingent on both the sample size and the underlying structure of the network--e.g., more samples do not add robustness when networks are highly clustered or not clustered at all, but sample size does matter when community structure is intermediate (as is often the case). 
Shizuka, D. and Farine, D. R. (2016) Measuring the robustness of network community structure using assortativity. Animal Behaviour. 112: 237-246. link

New Paper in Molecular Ecology

posted Sep 30, 2015, 8:28 AM by Dai Shizuka

Our new paper on winter social structure in golden-crowned sparrows (Dai is a co-author) is now out at Molecular Ecology!
Arnberg et al. (2015) investigated the effect of kinship on social network structure in a wintering population of migrant sparrows across years. Our previous work (Shizuka et al. 2014) showed how these networks consist of social communities of birds that flock together with each other much more often than with others, and that these social communities remain stable across years (with turnover in membership). The current work shows that flocks are not composed of kin, although there are some high-relatedness pairs (equivalent to cousins) in the population. Our works shows how to integrate social network data with kinship data. This was also the first chapter in Nina Arnberg's (Lyon Lab, UCSC) recently-defended dissertation. Congrats Nina!
Here is the link to the paper:

Back in business

posted Sep 4, 2015, 8:42 AM by Dai Shizuka

It's Week 2 of the fall semester here at UNL. We are starting out with a bang:

- Maria Goller is starting off her Ph.D. program here this semester. She brings expertise in field ecology + ornithology and a lot of really great ideas. Super excited to see what she'll produce in the next few years!

- We are getting some new undergrads/lab technicians involved. Stay tuned.

- Two new papers accepted over the past couple of weeks. Can't wait to see them in print soon!

Mid-summer roundup:

posted Jul 14, 2015, 1:20 PM by Dai Shizuka

Here's what's been happening at the Shizuka Lab:
- The field team led by grad student Emily and joined by UNL undergrad assistants Elizabeth Zurfluh + Dylan Horrocks, plus Theadora Block (Master student @ UCSC) has been conducting field work on golden-crowned sparrows at Hatcher Pass, AK since the beginning of June. They concluded their field season yesterday and arrive home today!

- Dai and Matt helped out with field work at the beginning of June and then attended the Animal Behavior Society meeting in Anchorage, AK June 10-14th. Dai gave a contributed talk on network approaches to studying dominance hierarchies. Matt gave an Allee Award talk on phenotype networks. A fun and productive meeting!

Elizabeth and Dylan on the move looking for sparrow nests
Elizabeth and Dylan on the move, looking for sparrow nests. Photo by M. Wilkins

Wild Adventures @ Pioneers Park

posted Apr 27, 2015, 1:46 PM by Dai Shizuka

Shizuka lab and other members of SBS participated in the Wild Adventures event at Pioneers Park Nature Center this Saturday. Despite the sketchy weather, it was very successful and super fun. We had a bird coloring book station and also showed kids how to use binoculars and ID birds coming into the feeders at the bird garden. Birds we saw included red-bellied woodpecker, American goldfinch, Harris' sparrow, common grackle, red-winged black bird, black-capped chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, and many others! Thanks to Emily, Jean-Philippe, Teresa, Shivani, Cody & Elizabeth for helping out! 

Matt Hahn at UCARE poster session

posted Apr 16, 2015, 11:31 AM by Dai Shizuka

Matt Hahn presented some results of his ongoing work on sex differences in song preferences in nestling golden-crowned sparrows at the UCARE Research Fair yesterday. Fine work, Matt! (sorry for the blurry photo)

Two new papers

posted Mar 31, 2015, 8:07 AM by Dai Shizuka

Dai has two new papers in Animal Behaviour and Journal of the Royal Society Interface. The Animal Behaviour paper is a co-authored paper with Bruce Lyon (UCSC) and John Eadie (UC Davis) that addresses why coots reject parasitic duck eggs using an experiment on coots where there are no brood parasitic ducks. The Interface paper is a third in a series of papers with Dave McDonald (U Wyo) on networks of dominance relations in non-human animals. We apply network motif analysis to compare datasets from studies spanning 80 years. 

Matt Wilkins is a finalist for Allee Competition at ABS

posted Mar 31, 2015, 7:59 AM by Dai Shizuka   [ updated Mar 31, 2015, 8:00 AM ]

Matt Wilkins will be a finalist for the Warder Clyde Allee Competition at the Animal Behavior Society conference this year. Good work Matt!

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