Welcome to the Parsons Lab for Behavioral Ecology and Conservation
The fundamental drivers of evolution include organisms’ abilities to detect and escape from threat. Research in our lab includes field and laboratory approaches to address contemporary and fundamental questions relating to escapability and coping mechanisms by prey. We are using the comparative approach to draw generalizations from a variety of predator-prey systems regarding early detection systems, multimodal signalling and socially mediated transmission of complex ‘packets’ of information. We have particular interests in how animals make decisions within the complex milieu of chemical ‘noise’ in the natural environment (chemical ecology), and how they relate this information to conspecifics (chemical-mediated social transmission), and ultimately how non-intended recipients– such as potential prey— have co-adapted to intercept, or eavesdrop, on these complex communicants.
We have employed theoretical, observational and experimental approaches to investigate detection systems for threat, plasticity of responses (habituation and sensitization) and consequences for these behaviors. While we are not restricted to any particular animal taxa or geographic location, our work falls within the themes of animal conservation, multimodal signaling, and urban ecology/wildlife management. Research outcomes include novel approaches to integrated pest management (IPM), and enhanced animal welfare.