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., and S. Nowicki. “Signal reliability and intraspecific deception.” In Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, 589–97, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-809633-8.90731-3. Full Text

Zipple, M. N., S. Peters, W. A. Searcy, and S. Nowicki. “Female swamp sparrows do not show evidence of discriminating between the songs of peak-aged and senescent males.” Ethology 127, no. 1 (January 1, 2021): 91–97. https://doi.org/10.1111/eth.13102. Full Text

Peniston, James H., Patrick A. Green, Matthew N. Zipple, and Stephen Nowicki. “Threshold assessment, categorical perception, and the evolution of reliable signaling.Evolution; International Journal of Organic Evolution 74, no. 12 (December 2020): 2591–2604. https://doi.org/10.1111/evo.14122. Full Text

Dinh, J. P., S. Peters, and S. Nowicki. “Song performance improves with continued singing across the morning in a songbird.” Animal Behaviour 167 (September 1, 2020): 127–37. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2020.06.018. Full Text

Green, Patrick A., Nicholas C. Brandley, and Stephen Nowicki. “Categorical perception in animal communication and decision-making.” Behavioral Ecology 31, no. 4 (July 29, 2020): 859–67. https://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/araa004. Full Text

Green, Patrick A., Nicholas C. Brandley, and Stephen Nowicki. “The many dimensions of categorical perception: a response to comments on Green et al.Behavioral Ecology 31, no. 4 (July 29, 2020): 872–872. https://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/araa060. Full Text

Caves, E. M., L. E. Schweikert, P. A. Green, M. N. Zipple, C. Taboada, S. Peters, S. Nowicki, and S. Johnsen. “Variation in carotenoid-containing retinal oil droplets correlates with variation in perception of carotenoid coloration.” Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 74, no. 7 (July 1, 2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-020-02874-5. Full Text Open Access Copy

Zipple, Matthew N., Susan Peters, William A. Searcy, and Stephen Nowicki. “Sounds of senescence: male swamp sparrows respond less aggressively to the songs of older individuals.” Behavioral Ecology 31, no. 2 (March 20, 2020): 533–39. https://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/arz218. Full Text

Caves, E. M., P. A. Green, M. N. Zipple, D. Bharath, S. Peters, S. Johnsen, and S. Nowicki. “Comparison of categorical color perception in two estrildid finches.” American Naturalist, January 1, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1086/712379. Full Text Open Access Copy

Searcy, William A., and Stephen Nowicki. “Animal Behavior: The Raised-by-Wolves Predicament.Current Biology : Cb 29, no. 23 (December 2019): R1243–44. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2019.09.064. 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 59, no. 6 (December 2019): 1451–62. https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/icz073. Full Text

Pages

Nowicki, S., E. M. Caves, L. E. Schweikert, P. A. Green, C. Taboada, M. N. Zipple, S. Peters, and S. Johnsen. “Carotenoid Concentration in Avian Retinal Oil Droplets Correlates with Color Discrimination Across a Perceptual Category Boundary.” In Integrative and Comparative Biology, 60:E175–E175, 2020.

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.

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 Coca-Cola Foundation, Inc. (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 Angier Biddle Duke Memorial (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2018

Funding for AB Duke Scholars program awarded by Angier Biddle Duke Memorial (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

Pages

Pages