Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Tennessee Knoxville
I am a PhD Candidate in Dr. Elizabeth Derryberry's lab in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. My research examines the effects of heat stress on animal behavior. Specifically, I focus on communication and mate choice in songbirds.
Grants and Awards
2018 Animal Behavior Society Student Research Grant
2018 SICB Grant in Aid of Research
2017 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
2016 Tulane University Departmental Grant
2016 GRFP Honorable Mention
Impacts of heat stress on communication in songbirds
While much research has focused on the effects of increased temperatures due to climate change in ectotherms, these effects in endotherms have been widely ignored. My aim is to explore how heat stress influences a well-studied communication system in endotherms: bird song. My dissertation research explores how rising temperatures affect male song and female mate choice in zebra finches.
Parental care in house sparrows
While in the lab of Dr. Rebecca Fox at Transylvania University, I studied the effects of neophobia (fear of novel objects) on parental care in house sparrows.
Elevated temperatures reduce discrimination between conspecific and heterospecific sexual signals.
Coomes, C, R Danner, and EP Derryberry. Elevated temperatures reduce discrimination between conspecific and heterospecific sexual signals. Animal Behaviour. January 2019.
Simulated heat wave reduces cognitive and behavioral performance of an endotherm
R Danner, C Coomes, and EP Derryberry. Simulated heat wave reduces cognitive and behavioral performance of an endotherm. In prep for Functional Ecology.
As a graduate student, I have many exciting opportunities to engage with the local community, be a mentor, and share my research.
While at Tulane University, I designed and led workshops for an event called Girls in STEM at Tulane (GiST), a program for middle school girls in New Orleans. In our workshop "Thermal Image-ination," we taught about scientific concepts such as climate change and thermoregulation. In addition, students were encouraged to use the scientific method through making hypotheses and predictions and running experiments.
I've shared my research with colleagues through presentations at conferences. Presentations include:
Coomes, C, R Danner, and E Derryberry. Does thermal stress influence mate selection? Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology, New Orleans, LA, January 2017
Coomes, C, R Danner, and E Derryberry. Does thermal stress influence mate selection? North American Ornithological Conference, Washington D.C., August 2016