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Sandra L. Vehrencamp

Professor Emerita

Seeley G Mudd Bio Science Wing, Room A101
159 Sapsucker Woods



  • Neurobiology and Behavior


My recent research efforts have focused on the evolution of animal communication systems in birds. Using techniques such as interactive song playback, multi-microphone array recording, and sound synthesis, students are studying the function and meaning of complex singing behavior in wren, sparrow, and mockingbird species with repertoires of song types. We are also investigating the role of song learning strategies in different species that result in different levels of song-type sharing among males and the ability to use song-type matching as a threat signal. Past projects include: 1) the evolution of cooperative breeding in birds, particularly in the factors that promote low-skew or joint-nesting breeding systems; 2) the energetic costs of signaling; and 3) the ecological determinants of group size.

Dr. Vehrencamp retired as of Fall 2010 and is no longer taking new graduate students.


  • Bradbury, J.W., S.L. Vehrencamp, and K. E. Clifton. 2015. The ideal free antelope: foraging dispersions. Behavioral Ecology 26:1303-1313.
  • Bradbury, J.W. and S. L. Vehrencamp. 2014. Choice of regression model for isodar analysis. Evolutionary Ecology Research 16: 689-704.
  • Hall, M.L., Rittenbach, M.R.D. and Vehrencamp, S.L. (2015) Female song and vocal interactions with males in a neotropical wren. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 17:12.
  • Vehrencamp, S.L., Ellis, J.M., Cropp, B.F. and Koltz, J.M. (2014) Negotiation of territory boundaries in a songbird. Behavioral Ecology 25: 1436-1450.
  • Kovach, K.A., Hall, M.L., Vehrencamp, S.L. and Mennill, D.J. (2014) Timing isn’t everything: Responses of tropical wrens to coordinated duets, uncoordinated duets, and alternating solos. Animal Behaviour 95: 101-109.
  • Bradbury, J.W. and Vehrencamp, S.L. (2014) Complexity and behavioral ecology. Behavioral Ecology 25:435-442.
  • Vehrencamp, S.L., Yantachka, J., Hall, M.L. and de Kort, S.R. (2013). Trill performance components vary with age, season, and motivation in the banded wren. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 67:409-419.
  • Sakata, J.T. and Vehrencamp, S.L. (2012). Integrating perspectives on vocal performance and consistency. Journal of Experimental Biology 215: 201-209.
  • Shen, S-F., Vehrencamp, S.L., Johnstone, R.A., Chen, H-C., Chan, S-F., Liao, W-Y., Lin, K-Y. and Yuan, H-W. (2012). Unfavorable environment limits social conflict in Yuhina brunneiceps. Nature Communications 3: 885.
  • Bradbury, J.W. and Vehrencamp, S.L. (2011). Principles of Animal Communication (2nd edition). Sunderland MA: Sinauer Associates. Companion Website:
  • Cramer, E.R.A., Hall, M.L., de Kort, S.R., Lovette, I.J., & Vehrencamp, S.L. (2011). Infrequent extra-pair paternity in banded wrens Thryothorus pleurostictus, synchronously-breeding tropical passerines. Condor 113: 637-645.
  • Shen,  S.-F., Reeve, H. K. & Vehrencamp, S.L. (2011). Parental care, cost of reproduction, and reproductive skew: A general costly young model. Journal of Theoretical Biology 284: 24-31.
  • Shen, S-F., Chen, H-C., Vehrencamp, S.L. and Yuan, H-W. (2010). Group provisioning limits sharing conflict among nestlings in joint-nesting Taiwan yuhinas. Biology Letters 6: 318-321.
  • de Kort, S.R., Bohman, E.R., Cramer, E.R.A. & Vehrencamp, S.L.  (2009). The deterrent effect of bird song in territory defence. Behavioral Ecology 20: 200-206.
  • Harding, E.G., Vehrencamp, S.L. & Curtis, P.D. (2009). External characteristics of houses prone to woodpecker damage. Human Wildlife Conflicts 3: 136-144.
  • Botero, C.A., Rossman, R.J., de Kort, S.R. & Vehrencamp, S.L. (2009). Syllable type consistency is related to age, social status, and reproductive success in the tropical mockingbird. Animal Behaviour 77:701-706.
  • Hall, M.L., Molles, L.E., Illes, A.E. & Vehrencamp, S.L. (2009). Singing in the face of death: male banded wrens sing more to playback in their last breeding season. J. Avian Biology 40: 217-224.
  • Yorzinski, J.L. & Vehrencamp, S.L. (2009). The effect of predator type and danger level on the mob calls of the American crow (Corvus brachyrhychos). Condor 111: 159-168.
  • de Kort, S.R., Eldermire, E.R., Valderrama S., Botero, C.A. & Vehrencamp, S.L. (2009).  Trill consistency is an age-related assessment signal in banded wrens. Proc. Royal Soc. London B. 276: 2315-2321.
  • Botero, C.A., Boogert, N.J., Vehrencamp, S.L. and Lovette, I.J. (2009). Climatic patterns predict the elaboration of song displays in mockingbirds. Current Biology 19: 1151-1155.
  • Vehrencamp, S.L. (2009). Forward. In: Reproductive skew in vertebrates: proximate and ultimate causes(ed. by C.B. Jones and R. Hager). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Bradbury, J.W. and S.L. Vehrencamp (2009). Animal Communication. In: Encyclopædia Britannica Online:
  • Mennill, D.J. & Vehrencamp, S.L. (2008). Animal duets are multifunctional signals: Evidence from microphone array recordings and multi-speaker playback. Current Biology 18:1314-1319.
  • Botero, C.A., Mudge, A.E., Koltz, A.M., Hochachka, W.M. & Vehrencamp, S.L. (2008). How reliable are the methods for estimating repertoire size? Ethology 114: 1227-1238.  
  • Cramer, E.R.A., Stenzler, L., Talaba, A.L., Makarerwich, C.A., Vehrencamp, S.L. & Lovette, I.J. (2008). Isolation and characterization of SNP variation at 90 anonymous loci in the banded wren (Thryothorus pleurostictus). Conservation Genetics 9:1657–1660.  
  • Yorzinski, J.L. & Vehrencamp, S.L. (2008) Preliminary report: antipredator behaviors of mandrill. Primate Report 75: 11-18.
  • Laidre, M. E. & Vehrencamp, S. L. (2008) Is bird song a reliable signal of aggressive intent? Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 62: 1207-1211.
  • Vehrencamp, S. L., Hall, M.L., Bohman, E. R., Depeine, C. D. & Dalziell, A. H. (2007). Song matching, overlapping, and switching in the banded wren: the sender’s perspective. Behavioral Ecology 18: 849-859.
  • Buston, P. M., Reeve, H. K., Cant, M. A., Vehrencamp, S. L. & Emlen, S. T. (2007). Reproductive skew and the evolution of group dissolution tactics: an extension and clarification of existing models. Animal Behaviour 74: 1643-1654.
  • Botero, C. A., Riveros, J. & Vehrencamp, S. L. (2007). Relative threat and recognition ability in the responses of tropical mockingbirds to song playback. Animal Behaviour 73: 661-669.
  • Harding, E. G., Curtis, P. D. & Vehrencamp, S. L. (2007). Assessment of management techniques to reduce woodpecker damage to homes. Journal of Wildlife Management 71: 2061-2066.
  • Botero, C. A. and S. L. Vehrencamp (2007). Responses of male tropical mockingbird to variation in within-song and between song versatility. Auk 124: 185-196.
  • Brar, R. K., L. A. Schoenle, L. M. Stenzler, M. L. Hall, S. L. Vehrencamp, & I. J. Lovette (2007). Eleven microsatellite loci isolated from the Banded Wren (Thryothorus pleurostictus). Molecular Ecology Notes 7: 69-71.
  • Trillo, P. A. and S. L. Vehrencamp (2006). Song types and their structural features are associated with specific contexts in the banded wren. Animal Behaviour 70: 921-935.
  • Hall, M. L., A. E. Illes and S. L. Vehrencamp (2006). Overlapping signals in banded wrens: long-term effects of prior experience on males and females. Behavioral Ecology 17: 260-269.
  • Mennill, D. J., J. M. Burt, K. M. Fristrup & S. L. Vehrencamp (2006). Accuracy of an acoustic location system for monitoring the position of duetting songbirds in tropical forest. J. Acoustic Soc. America 119: 2832-2839.
  • Illes, A. E., M. L. Hall and S. L. Vehrencamp (2006). Trill performance influences male receiver response in the banded wren. Proc. Royal Soc. Lond B 273: 1907-1912.
  • Yorzinski, J. L., S. L. Vehrencamp, A. B. Clark & K. J. McGowan (2006). The inflected alarm caw of the American Crow: differences in acoustic structure among individuals and sexes. Condor 108: 518-529.
  • Mennill, D. J. and S. L. Vehrencamp (2005). Sex differences in the singing and duetting behavior of neotropical Rufous-and-White Wrens, Thryothorus rufalbus. Auk 122: 175-186.
  • Burt, J. M. and S. L. Vehrencamp (2005). Dawn chorus as an interactive communication network. In: Animal Communication Networks (ed. by P.K. McGregor). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 320-343.
  • Vehrencamp, S. L. and J. S. Quinn (2004). Avian joint laying systems. In: Cooperative breeding in birds: recent research and new theory (ed. by W.D. Koenig and J. Dickinson). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 177-196.
  • deRivera, C. E., P. R. Y. Backwell, J. H. Christy, and S. L. Vehrencamp (2003). Density affects female and male mate searching in the fiddler crab, Uca beebei. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 53: 72-83.
  • Vehrencamp, S. L., A. Ritter, M. Keever and J. W. Bradbury (2003). Responses to playback of local versus distant contact calls in the Orange-fronted Conure, Aratinga canicularis. Ethology 109: 37-54.
  • Germano, E. and S. L. Vehrencamp (2003). Hammerheads: Why woodpeckers drum on your house. Living Bird 22: 24-29.
  • Wilson, P. L. and S.L. Vehrencamp (2001). A test of the deceptive mimicry hypothesis in song-sharing song sparrows. Anim. Behav. 62:1197-1205.
  • Molles, L. E. and S. L. Vehrencamp (2001). Songbird cheaters pay a retaliation cost: evidence for auditory conventional signals. Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond., Series B 268: 2013-2019.
  • Vehrencamp, S. L. (2001). Is song-type matching a conventional signal of aggressive intentions? Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond., Series B 268: 1637-1642.
  • deRivera, C. E. and S. L. Vehrencamp (2001). Male versus female mate searching in fiddler crabs: a comparative analysis. Behav. Ecol. 12: 182-191.
  • Molles, L. E., S. L. Vehrencamp (2001). Neighbour recognition by resident males in the banded wren, a tropical songbird with high song-type sharing. An. Beh. 61:119-127.
  • Wilson, P. L., M. C. Towner and S. L. Vehrencamp (2000). Survival and song-type sharing in a sedentary population of the song sparrow. Condor 102: 355-363.
  • Vehrencamp, S. L. (2000). Evolutionary routes to joint nesting in birds. Behav. Ecol. 11:334-344.
  • Bradbury, J. W. and S. L. Vehrencamp (2000). Economic models of animal communication. Anim. Behav. 59: 259-268.