Stephen Nowicki

Professor of Biology

Office: 
137 Biological Sciences Building, 130 Science Drive, Durham, NC 27708
Campus Box: 
Duke Box 90338, Durham, NC 27708
Phone: 
(919) 684-6950
Our lab studies animal communication and sexual selection from an integrative perspective that includes a wide range of behavioral ecological, neuroethological, developmental, genetic, and evolutionary approaches. Birds are our most common model system, but we also have worked with insects, spiders, shrimp, lobsters, lizards, and primates, including humans. The central question that drives our work is how information, in the broadest sense of that word, is used by organisms to maximize survival and reproductive success.

Education

  • Ph.D., Cornell University 1984

  • M.S., Tufts University 1978

  • B.S., Tufts University 1976

Searcy, W. A., D. Ocampo, and S. Nowicki. “Constraints on song type matching in a songbird.” Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 73, no. 8 (August 1, 2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-019-2708-6. Full Text

Zipple, Matthew N., Eleanor M. Caves, Patrick A. Green, Susan Peters, Sönke Johnsen, and Stephen Nowicki. “Categorical colour perception occurs in both signalling and non-signalling colour ranges in a songbird..” Proceedings. Biological Sciences 286, no. 1903 (May 29, 2019). https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2019.0524. Full Text

Caves, Eleanor M., Stephen Nowicki, and Sönke Johnsen. “Von Uexküll revisited: Addressing human biases in the study of animal perception..” Integrative and Comparative Biology, May 24, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/icz073. Full Text

Searcy, W. A., and S. Nowicki. “Birdsong learning, avian cognition and the evolution of language.” Animal Behaviour 151 (May 1, 2019): 217–27. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2019.01.015. Full Text

Caves, Eleanor M., Patrick A. Green, Matthew N. Zipple, Susan Peters, Sönke Johnsen, and Stephen Nowicki. “Categorical perception of colour signals in a songbird..” Nature 560, no. 7718 (August 2018): 365–67. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-018-0377-7. Full Text

Lachlan, Robert F., Oliver Ratmann, and Stephen Nowicki. “Cultural conformity generates extremely stable traditions in bird song..” Nature Communications 9, no. 1 (June 20, 2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-04728-1. Full Text

Liu, I. A., J. A. Soha, and S. Nowicki. “Song type matching and vocal performance in territorial signalling by male swamp sparrows.” Animal Behaviour 139 (May 1, 2018): 117–25. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2018.03.007. Full Text

Sewall, Kendra B., Rindy C. Anderson, Jill A. Soha, Susan Peters, and Stephen Nowicki. “Early life conditions that impact song learning in male zebra finches also impact neural and behavioral responses to song in females..” Developmental Neurobiology, April 20, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1002/dneu.22600. Full Text

DuBois, A. L., S. Nowicki, S. Peters, K. D. Rivera-Cáceres, and W. A. Searcy. “Song is not a reliable signal of general cognitive ability in a songbird.” Animal Behaviour 137 (March 1, 2018): 205–13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2018.01.020. Full Text

Niederhauser, J. M., A. L. DuBois, W. A. Searcy, S. Nowicki, and R. C. Anderson. “A test of the eavesdropping avoidance hypothesis as an explanation for the structure of low-amplitude aggressive signals in the song sparrow.” Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 72, no. 3 (March 1, 2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-018-2469-7. Full Text

Pages

Caves, E. M., M. N. Zipple, P. A. Green, S. Peters, S. Johnsen, and S. Nowicki. “Categorical Perception of Color Along a Blue-Green Continuum in Female Zebra Finches.” In Integrative and Comparative Biology, 59:E33–E33. OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, 2019.

Green, P. A., E. M. Caves, M. N. Zipple, S. Peters, S. Johnsen, and S. Nowicki. “Categorical Perception of a Carotenoid-based Assessment Signal.” In Integrative and Comparative Biology, 59:E87–E87. OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, 2019.

Nowicki, S., A. L. Dubois, S. Peters, K. D. Rivera-Caceres, and W. A. Searcy. “Song is not a reliable signal of general cognitive ability in a songbird.” In Integrative and Comparative Biology, 59:E170–E170. OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, 2019.

Dinh, J. P., S. Nowicki, and S. Peters. “Intra-diel improvement in song performance: swamp sparrows 'warm up' in the morning.” In Integrative and Comparative Biology, 59:E55–E55. OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, 2019.

Anderson, R., J. Niederhauser, A. Dubois, S. Nowicki, and W. Searcy. “Are Song Sparrow 'Soft Songs' Adapted for Short-range Communication?.” In Integrative and Comparative Biology, 57:E192–E192. OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, 2017.

Anderson, R. C., K. B. Sewall, S. Peters, J. A. Soha, and S. Nowicki. “Song as a signal of cognitive ability: effects of early developmental stress on problem solving and song learning in the zebra finch.” In Integrative and Comparative Biology, 56:E6–E6. OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, 2016.

Sewall, K. B., R. C. Anderson, S. Peters, S. Nowicki, and T. Roth. “Social complexity as a driver of communication and cognition.” In Integrative and Comparative Biology, 55:E165–E165. OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, 2015.

Anderson, R. C., and S. Nowicki. “Cognitive performance predicts strength of sexual preference in a songbird.” In Integrative and Comparative Biology, 54:E6–E6. OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, 2014.

Sewall, K. B., J. A. Soha, S. Peters, and S. Nowicki. “A possible trade-off between song and a cognitive metric in song sparrows.” In Integrative and Comparative Biology, 54:E190–E190. OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, 2014.

Sewall, K. B., and S. Nowicki. “The relationship between testosterone and aggressive phenotype in male song sparrows (Melospiza melodia).” In Integrative and Comparative Biology, 52:E326–E326. OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, 2012.

Pages

Eleanor M., Caves, Green Patrick A., Zipple Matthew N., Peters Susan, Johnsen Sonke, and Nowicki Stephen. “Data and scripts from: Categorical perception of colour signals in a songbird,” 2018. https://doi.org/10.7924/r4rx96r99. Full Text

Selected Grants

Washington Duke Scholars Program awarded by (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2021

The COMPASS PROJECT awarded by Howard Hughes Medical Institute (Principal Investigator). 2014 to 2020

Neural Codes for Vocal Sequences awarded by National Science Foundation (Co-Principal Investigator). 2014 to 2020

2017 - 2018 MMUF awarded by Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2018

AB Duke Scholars awarded by (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2018

Funding for AB Duke Scholars program awarded by (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2017

Collaborative Research: Cognition and Signaling in Songbirds awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2012 to 2016

DISSERTATION RESEARCH: The Role of Mating System in Sperm Competition and Protein Evolution in /Agelaius/ Blackbirds awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2011 to 2014

Impact of early nutrition on neural mechanisms of signal processing awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2010 to 2013

DISSERTATION RESEARCH: Selective pressures shaping aggressive behavoir in females: an experimental approach awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2007 to 2009

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