Elizabeth Derryberry, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, received recognition in a timeline of important female ornithologists in a Cornell Lab of Ornithology article, focusing on the achievements of female ornithologists and their role in determining the causes of evolutionary advancements in birds.
Part of Derryberry’s research focuses on the how bird songs are shaped by urban environments.
“One of the things I’ve been most interested in over the last five years is looking at how urban noise affects bird song,” she said.
Through research in San Francisco of urban and coastal white-crowned sparrows, Derryberry and other researchers determined that the volume and frequency of a song is correlated to the birds’ environment. As noise frequency increases in a city or along the coast, so does the birds’ songs. This creates loud, high pitched notes in shorter intervals, as compared to songs from birds living in low noise frequency environments.
“We found that within a population, males vary their vocalizations in their songs based on how loud it is on their territory,” said Derryberry. “As traffic noise increases and city noise levels increasing, we are seeing a shift up in frequency.”
The article provides a recognition of women ornithologists and highlights the importance their research has had. “I think women have been really impactful in ornithology for a long time,” she said. “It’s really just a matter of recognition. It’s great to see those sorts of efforts.”