Welcome - Dickinson Lab
Janis L. Dickinson, Professor, Natural Resources, Arthur A. Allen Director of Citizen Science, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Member of Graduate Fields:
Natural Resources & Neurobiology and Behavior
I am sorry - my lab is currently full!
Fall 2012 Graduate Course:
The Evolution of Cooperation
This is a graduate seminar on a cross-disciplinary topic of universal interest: how and why we cooperate! We will meet once per week for two hours and, together, we will cover a vast literature on cooperation, primarily among non-relatives, tapping empirical results on humans and other animals. This has been a very active area of research in the past decade and there are excellent reviews of many of our subtopics by Nowak, Fehr, Sigmund, Griskevicius, Boyd, Christakis, Ostrom, Rankin, Rilling, Cialdini, Keltner, and others, including faculty situated in various departments at Cornell. We will focus on proximate and ultimate aspects of cooperation, centering on the question of how collective action can be maintained in cases where individual self-interest counters group interests. This situation, usually referred to as a social dilemma, is particularly apparent with public goods, which are both nonexcludable, meaning everyone has access, and non-rivalrous, meaning one person’s use doesn’t appreciably deplete the resource for use by others. Public goods problems are broadly applicable to real-life issues, including use of natural resources and behavioral responses to communal problems like climate change. We consider the possibility that improved understanding of proximate mechanisms can shed light on how best to provide support for pro-environmental behavior for the benefit of current and future generations. The literature is vast, complicated, and exciting with new ideas, models, and findings appearing at a rapid rate even today!
I have been a faculty member in Natural Resources and Director of Citizen Science at Cornell Lab of Ornithology since fall of 2005. In Citizen Science, we are developing research models that involve a blend of citizen research participation over a broad spatial scale with studies to understand the potential for the internet to create conservation communities by providing support for human cooperation, particularly with regard to issues of sustainability and conservation of biodiversity. These activities coincide with my historic interests in cooperative breeding and other forms of social behavior at both proximate and ultimate levels of analysis and expand on these interests to include integration of such broad topics as existential- environmental psychology, social networking, and collective action theory. This breadth of interests requires involvement of a diverse team of researchers, graduate students, and undergraduates. Our ecological work focuses on anthropogenic change and its consequences for biodiversity. We emphasize behavioral variation, landscape change, spatial genetics, and climate change. Citizen science projects in my program include NestWatch, a national database for collecting new and historic nesting observations for North American birds, The YardMap Network, a project that uses citizen science and social networking to engage participants in learning about, practicing, and inventing new sustainable practices in residential landscapes, Project FeederWatch, which we used to study range limits for wintering birds, and Celebrate Urban Birds, which focuses on bringing nature and science to urban, underserved audiences.
My ongoing research program at Hastings Reserve involves using a long-term study of color-banded western bluebirds as a model system for testing key hypotheses regarding the evolution of mating systems, sex ratio, dispersal behavior, cooperative breeding, migration, and life history traits. At Hastings Reserve, mistletoe grows on deciduous oaks and produces a sustained berry crop over the winter. It appears to be a form of wealth that drives family group living. Although sons typically winter on their natal territories with their parents and sometimes become nonbreeding helpers, reducing mistletoe wealth by half causes sons to leave home. For the past five years, the western bluebird project has been directed at understanding bluebird-mistletoe interactions and testing the relative importance of territory quality and nepotism for keeping sons at home. This work incorporates field experiments and combines demographic analysis with GIS landscape modeling. We have now embarked on an investigation, led by postdoc Caglar Akcay, of kin recognition using vocal signals.
Curriculum Vitae - click here for ...
Publications - click here for ...
Nature Podcast on Personality Profiles - http://www.nature.com/nature/podcast/v442/n7105/
- BBC “The Rules of Life” with Aubrey Manning, Programme 5 “Happy Families” - http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/
- National Geographic News - http://news.nationalgeographic.com/
- Great Backyard Bird Count - Http://www.npr.org/templates/story/
- Cornell - http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/April06/
See www.rainbowspirit.com for more images of the Hastings Reserve
Janis L. Dickinson
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Rd,
Ithaca, NY 14850
Office: 607 - 254-2194
My office in Fernow Hall (Tue. afternoons only): Rm. 102A