Welcome to the Webster Lab!

Exploring the ecology, evolution and mechanisms of animal reproductive behavior and sexual signals, and educating others about our natural world and its importance to our daily lives.

We study animal social behavior from an evolutionary perspective, particularly focusing on the processes and outcomes of sexual selection. Our work is integrative, in that we examine issues from both ultimate and proximate perspectives. This research combines intensive fieldwork with genetic, hormonal and other analyses in the lab, to unlock the secret lives of birds and other taxa.

We are part of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology as well as the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior.


Lab News

Eliot, Gavin, and Rusty's paper on plumage mimicry in woodpeckers has just come out in Nature Communications. Read about it here and find Eliot's story about the research here.

Joe was recently featured on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio show, The Science Show with Robyn Williams. Robyn interviewed Joe about his research, how he got started studying birds, and the recently-launched Fairywren Project. Click here to listen to the interview.

Rusty's recent Bird of Paradise paper (PLoS Biology) has been getting some great press! Read about it here, here, and here.

The Weblab welcomes new graduate student Zena Casteel and new postdoc Carrie Branch. Zena will be studying the interplay between natural and sexual selection on the evoloution of complex signaling in sparrows. Carrie is working on a new project investigating whether females use song and plumage to choose males that have superior spatial memory abilities, a trait required for overwinter survival.

Joe along with friend of the lab, Allison Johnson, recently launched the Fairywren Project, a new endeavor to team up with citizen scientists to study the role ecology plays in the evolution of the 10 fairywren species in Australia.






Banner photo by Graeme Chapman