E-mail: sslowins AT indiana DOT edu
My research focuses on chemical communication in birds using the Dark-eyed Junco as a model system. Recent work suggests a possible role for preen oil volatiles in avian chemical communication. However, little is known about how these volatiles are produced. I am currently investigating the hypothesis that volatile compounds in avian preen oil are modified by microbes after secretion from the preen gland, and that post-secretion microbial alterations of preen volatiles change the quality and function of avian chemical signals.
I am also interested in how symbiotic microbes that may function in producing avian chemosignals are transmitted among individuals. I am also working to investigate the ontogeny of the preen oil volatiles that produce a characteristic scent in nestling and juvenile juncos.