Damien Elias

Assistant Professor of Environmental Science, Policy and Management
Keywords: evolution, mechanics
Keywords: animal behavior, communication, bioacoustics, vibration, neuroethology, sensory systems, arthropods, signal evolution, sexual selection
Website: http://ourenvironment.berkeley.edu/people_profiles/damian-o-elias/

Research Description:

The goal of the Elias Lab is to understand the mechanisms that guide behavior and how these mechanisms relate to behavioral adaptation. We use a variety of systems and tools to investigate how animals produce and process complex stimuli, and the interplay between physics, behavior, and evolutionary processes.

The Elias lab focuses on animal communication in three key areas: (1) Mechanistic studies on signal production, transmission, and reception. Using laser vibrometry, the Elias lab investigates how animals produce, transmit, and receive both airborne and substrate-borne acoustic signals. In depth investigations on functional morphology, the physics of propagating acoustic waves and the mechanics of acoustic sensors are currently ongoing. (2) Behavioral ecology studies on animal communication. Ongoing work in the Elias lab investigates sexual selection, demography, decision making, and habitat usage using both laboratory and field work. (3) Signal evolution. Using the comparative method, the Elias lab investigates signaling behavior and decision making in a phylogenetic context to understand evolutionary patterns in signaling, habitat usage, demography, and speciation in a variety of species.

Selected Publications:

  • Clark CJ, Elias DO, and Prum R. Aeroelastic flutter produces hummingbird feather songs. (2011) Science 333, 1430-1433
  • Elias, D.O., Botero, C. A., Andrade, M. C. B., Mason, A. C., and Kasumovic, M. M. (2010) High resource valuation fuels “desperado” fighting tactics in female jumping spiders, Behavioral Ecology, 21(4):868-875
  • Elias, D.O., Mason, A. C., and Hebets, E.A. (2010) A signal-substrate match in the seismic component of a multimodal courtship display, Current Zoology 56(3), 370-378
  • Lee N, Elias D.O., and Mason A.C. (2009) A precedence effect resolves phantom sound source illusions in the parasitoid fly Ormia ochracea. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 106 (15), 6357-6362.
  • Elias D. O., Mason, A. C., and Hoy, R. R. (2004). The effect of substrate on the efficacy of seismic courtship signal transmission in the jumping spider Habronattus dossenus (Araneae: Salticidae). Journal of Experimental Biology, 207, 4105-4110.
  • Elias D. O., Mason, A. C., Maddison, W. P. and Hoy, R. R. (2003). Seismic signals in a courting male jumping spider (Araneae: Salticidae). Journal of Experimental Biology 206, 4029-4039.
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