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Stephen Nowicki, Dean of the Natural Sciences in Arts & Sciences and Bass Professor and Co-Director, Neurosciences

Stephen Nowicki
Contact Info:
Office Location:  012 Allen Building
Office Phone:  (919) 668-2728
Email Address:   send me a message
Web Page:   http://www.biology.duke.edu/nowicki/

Teaching (Spring 2020):

  • Biology 89s.03, First-year seminar (top) Synopsis
    Bio sci 144, MW 10:05 AM-11:20 AM

Ph.D. Cornell University 1984
M.S. Tufts University 1978
B.S. Tufts University 1976

Organismal Biology and Behavior
Ecology and Population Biology
Research Interests: Ecology and evolution of animal communication

The Nowicki laboratory studies the ecology and evolution of animal behavior, especially questions about the evolution of diversity and complexity in animal communication signals. Steve Nowicki's current work focuses on birdsong, although he and his students have worked on a diverse array of organisms including invertebrates such as insects, spiders, crabs, shrimp and lobsters, and other vertebrates including lizards, ground squirrels and primates. Research projects combine field observation and experimentation, with laboratory studies of perception, neuroanatomy, functional morphology, phylogenetic analysis, and state-of-the-art digital signal processing. Nowicki's ongoing research projects lie in two main areas. The first concerns the evolution of receiver preferences for signal characteristics, with the goal of determining the proximate mechanisms by which signals may provide accurate information about the sender's condition or other relevant characteristics. The second main area examines how morphological and physiological mechanisms of signal production influence the evolution of signal diversity.

Recent Publications   (More Publications)

  1. Caves, EM; Nowicki, S; Johnsen, S, Von Uexküll Revisited: Addressing Human Biases in the Study of Animal Perception., Integrative and Comparative Biology, vol. 59 no. 6 (December, 2019), pp. 1451-1462 [doi[abs].
  2. Searcy, WA; Nowicki, S, Animal Behavior: The Raised-by-Wolves Predicament., Current Biology : Cb, vol. 29 no. 23 (December, 2019), pp. R1243-R1244 [doi[abs].
  3. Zipple, MN; Nowicki, S; Searcy, WA; Peters, S, Full life course analysis of birdsong reveals maturation and senescence of highly repeatable song characteristics, Behavioral Ecology, vol. 30 no. 6 (November, 2019), pp. 1761-1768 [doi[abs].
  4. Searcy, WA; Ocampo, D; Nowicki, S, Constraints on song type matching in a songbird, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, vol. 73 no. 8 (August, 2019) [doi[abs].
  5. Zipple, MN; Caves, EM; Green, PA; Peters, S; Johnsen, S; Nowicki, S, Categorical colour perception occurs in both signalling and non-signalling colour ranges in a songbird., Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol. 286 no. 1903 (May, 2019), pp. 20190524 [doi[abs].

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