As a behavioral ecologist, most of my research has focused on bats, although I am interested in the ecological and evolutionary basis of behavior in all animal groups. This fairly broad description fits my research program, as I am interested in a variety of questions, from the behavioral function of acoustic signals in bats to the migratory ecology of red-winged blackbirds.
One major theme of my research is understanding how behavioral,
ecological, and evolutionary factors influence the structure of animal
communication signals. My previous research has focused on
investigating natural flexibility in bat echolocation and examining how
bats adjust their call structure in response to the characteristics of
their signaling environment. I am also interested in studying several
aspects of mammalian social systems, including assessment of social
structure and the behavioral function of social calls exchanged between
groupmates. Finally, my students and I conduct studies focusing on
ecological questions that are relevant to local/regional conservation concerns, such as assessing the distribution and habitat use of the poorly-studied bats of North Dakota.
Overall, I am a major proponent of conducting experimental research in a field setting, as such studies provide robust information about the behavior of animals in their natural environment. My students and I have conducted research at a variety of locations, including North Dakota, Texas, Costa Rica, and Madagascar, among others.