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Nicole Gerlach


520 Carr Hall

Research Interests

Broadly, I am interested in behavioral ecology, specifically the ways in which individuals make mate choice decisions and the way those decisions affect both their own fitness and that of their offspring. My research focuses on extra-pair mating in socially monogamous organisms. This behavior is quite common in songbirds, and has been well-studied from the perspective of male behavior, but much less so from the female perspective. In some species, more than 25% of offspring are produced by extra-pair mating, although individual females vary from highly faithful (no EPO) to highly unfaithful (all EPO). My research is aimed at understanding the sources of this individual variation from both ultimate and proximate perspectives, as well as the effects that extra-pair behavior has on fitness. I am also interested in the long-term dynamics of behavior, both in terms of the causes of annual variation in extra-pair mating as well as the consequences for population structure and evolution.