Universiteit Leiden

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Karan Odom

Postdoc / guest

Dr. K.J. Odom
+31 71 527 2727

I am a behavioral ecologist interested in the evolution of elaborate traits. Specifically, I am interested in the processes and selection pressures responsible for such traits in both females and males. To study this, I examine how complex bird song varies between females and males throughout songbirds and what selection pressures have influenced the evolution of these elaborate female traits.

More information about Karan Odom

Animals exhibit a diverse array of elaborate traits, from flashy colors to the complex songs of songbirds. Such elaborate traits were traditionally thought to evolve predominantly through sexual selection on males. However, females of many animals are elaborate, too. Using phylogenetic comparative methods to reconstruct how female and male bird songs have changed through evolutionary time, my research examines how and why elaborate traits evolved in both females and males, including the underlying selection pressures that have led to the range of elaborate traits that we see in both sexes today.

Brief Biography

2016 –   : Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute of Biology, Leiden University

2010 – 2016: PhD, Biological Sciences, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Dissertation: “Investigating female songs and duets in songbirds (Oscine passerines) at three evolutionary scales: phylogenetic reconstruction, comparative methods, and field studies.”

2007 – 2009: MSc, Biological Sciences, University of Windsor

Thesis: “Vocalizations, vocal behaviour, and geographic variation in the calls, duets, and duetting behaviour of a nonpasserine, the barred owl (Strix varia).”

2002 – 2006: BA, Zoology Department, Ohio Wesleyan University


  • Odom, K.J., Omland, K.E., McCaffrey, D.R., Monroe, M.K., Christhilf, J.L., Roberts, N.S. and Logue, D.L. 2016. Typical males and unconventional females: songs and singing behaviors of a tropical, duetting oriole in the breeding and non-breeding season. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 4:14. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2016.00014.
  • Campbell, S. K., Morales-Perez, A. L., Malloy, J. F., Muellerklein, O. C., Kim, J. A., Odom, K. J. and Omland, K. E.  2016. Documentation of female song in a newly recognized species, the Puerto Rican Oriole (Icterus portoricensis). Journal Caribbean Ornithology 29: 28-36.
  • Odom, K.J., Omland, K.E. and Price, J.J. 2015. Differentiating the evolution of female song and male-female duets in the New World blackbirds: can tropical natural history traits explain duet evolution? Evolution 69:839-847.
  • Sandercock, B.S., Alfaro-Barrios, M., Casey, A.E., Johnson, T.N., Mong, T.W., Odom, K.J., Strum, K.M. and Winder, V.L. 2015. Effects of grazing and prescribed fire on resource selection and nest survival of upland sandpipers in an experimental landscape. Landscape Ecology 30:325–337.
  • Odom, K.J., Hall, M.L., Riebel, K., Omland, K.E. and Langmore, N.E. 2014. Female song is widespread and ancestral in songbirds. Nature Communications 5: 3379.
  • Odom, K. J., Slaght, J.C. & Gutiérrez, R.J. 2013. Distinctiveness in the territorial calls of Great Horned Owls within and among years. Journal of Raptor Research 47: 21-30.
  • Odom, K. J. and Mennill, D. J. 2012. Inconsistent geographic variation in the calls and duets of Barred Owls across an area of genetic introgression. Auk 129: 387-398.
  • Barrowclough, G. B., Groth, J. J., Odom, K. J. and Lai, J. E. 2011. Phylogeography of the Barred Owl (Strix varia): species limits, multiple refugia, and range expansion. Auk 128: 696-706.
  • Odom, K. J. and Mennill, D. J. 2010. Vocal duets in a nonpasserine: an examination of territory defense and neighbour-stranger discrimination in a neighbourhood of barred owls. Behaviour 147: 619-639.
  • Odom, K. J. and Mennill, D. J. 2010. A quantitative description of the vocalizations and vocal activity of the Barred Owl. Condor 112: 549-560.

Postdoc / guest

  • Science
  • Instituut Biologie Leiden
  • IBL Animal Sciences


No relevant ancillary activities

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