Karan Odom and Kevin Omland, biological sciences, recently made headlines around the world with a Nature Communications article that challenges the assumption that bird song is an exclusively male trait resulting from sexual selection.
Odom, a Ph.D. student in Omland’s lab, led a team of researchers from UMBC, the University of Melbourne in Australia, Leiden University in the Netherlands and the Australian National University in this groundbreaking work. The researchers completed an extensive global study of songbirds and found that 71% of songbirds surveyed had female song. They also mapped the traits of female song onto an evolutionary tree, which revealed that the common ancestor of modern songbirds also had female song.
These findings raise questions about Darwin’s understanding of bird song. Mike Webster, director of the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, explains, “The standard thinking is that competition for mates has led to the evolution of bright colors and loud songs in males, whereas selection for avoidance of predators has led to females that are cryptically colored and relatively quiet. This study by Odom et al. stands this view on its head by showing that singing females are actually quite widespread, and also that females sang in the ancestor of all modern songbirds.”
Odom says this research opens the door for exploring alternative evolutionary scenarios and processes that Darwin might not have considered with regard to the evolution of bird song.
Coverage of the study has already appeared in outlets from the BBC World Service Newshour [jump to 48:20], to Germany’s Der Spiegel, to Australia’s ABC Radio National. Additional news links are included below, and we will continue adding links as new coverage appears.
Not Just Males: Common Ancestor Of Modern Songbirds Had Female Song (Science 2.0)
Prominence of Female Birdsong Challenges Evolutionary Theory (Nature World News)
Bird song – it’s not just a male gig (Phys.org)
Birdsong is not all about sexual selection: Female birds sing much more often than previously thought (Science Daily)
Female Song Birds Do Sing And Charles Darwin Got It Wrong (Business Insider)
Delightful duets prove Darwin slightly off-key over birdsong (Canberra Times)
Female birds sing songs as sweetly (Australian Life Scientist)
According to the study of ANU: Female birds song is different from males (Periscope Post)
Female birds rival males in bird song: ANU study (Xinhua)
Vogelgesang ist keine Männerdomäne (Die Welt and Berliner Morgenpost)
Bird Song Almost as Common in Female Birds as in Males: Study (Newspoint Africa)
Female birds sing songs: Was Charles Darwin wrong? (Zee News)
Bird song not exclusively male trait, reports say (The Hindu)
Evolution: Female songbirds make themselves heard (Nature Asia)
Keine “Männerdomäne” – Auch Vogelweibchen singen (Schweizerbauer)
Ganz Was Neues: Vogel Weibchen Können Singen (Taz.de)
Viele Vogelweibchen singen (Weser Kurier)
Emanzipierte Vogelweibchen (Achtung, Wolf!)
Vogel tjilpt om gebied te verdedigen (en dus niet om vrouwtjes te lokken) (Volkskrant)
Auch die Weibchen singen (Wiener Zeitung)
A tojók is rendszeresen énekelnek (Index)
Veel vrouwtjesvogels zingen ook (NRC)
Vrouwelijke zangvogels hebben veel meer noten op hun zang dan gedacht (Scientias)
Vrouwelijke zangvogel zingt vaker dan gedacht (NU)
Vrouwtjesvogels zingen veel vaker dan gedacht (University of Leiden)
An article published March 4 in Capital News Service examines the Common Core State Standards and how college students studying education and soon entering the world of teaching are preparing for it.
Education Professor and Chair Eugene Schaffer is quoted in the article describing UMBC’s curriculum and the department’s understanding of the need to prepare students for the Common Core: “We know that the people that graduate this coming spring will be entering the classrooms and will be teaching Common Core,” Schaffer said. “This is a great concern of ours.”
Schaffer also commented on internships that are completed in the classroom by students who work closely with mentors: “When they’re [interning] for a full semester, they’re teaching the skills they have developed, and a lot of that is related to Common Core,” he added.
Associate Professor of Education Jonathan Singer is also quoted in the article when describing education courses at UMBC: “Methods courses have specific lessons geared toward explaining what Common Core is,” Singer said. “They have three or four lesson plans they have to develop in connection to Common Core.”
You can read the full article in Capital News Service by clicking here.
In an op-ed published March 4 in The Baltimore Sun, Political Science Professor Thomas Schaller comments on public attitudes of gay rights and efforts to allow discrimination against gays being struck down in recent years.
“Public attitudes about gay rights have changed dramatically in recent decades. Solid majorities, especially among younger Americans, now support marriage equality and other standards of equal treatment,” he writes.
In his column, Schaller cites the recent news of a bill passed by the Arizona legislature and later vetoed that would have permitted those with religious objections to deny services to gay customers: ”Consider the fact that anyone could start a new religion tomorrow and declare that their so-called moral objections allow them to deny service to groups they find repellent, including conservative evangelicals. Citing religion to justify hate sets a very dangerous precedent,” Schaller writes.
You can read the full op-ed titled “Hate if you must, just don’t act on it” in The Baltimore Sun by clicking here.
Monday’s winter storm forced school systems across the region to cancel school for yet another day, adding to what were already high snow day totals for many. With classroom instruction disrupted again, WAMU’s The Kojo Nnamdi Show decided to look into the question of “the snow day effect” and how it can impact classroom performance.
Public Policy Professor and Graduate Program Director Dave Marcotte was a guest on Monday’s show and discussed a multi-year study he conducted to look into winter weather’s impact on schools in several states. One of the key findings was that a week’s worth of snow days reduced the number of students who passed state math assessments by as much as two percent.
“Math is a skill that is most exclusively learned in school,” Marcotte said. “So kids who are staying home today are probably reading books, Harry Potter or something else, but probably none of them are doing math right now. So taking them out of the classroom is really where you can have an effect on that subject in particular.”
Marcotte also discussed how the relationship between snow days and classroom performance can be complicated because adding school days onto the end of the year to make up for lost time isn’t necessarily a solution.
“We don’t really know the extent to which that is going to help solve the problem. As teachers and parents likely know, time in June in the classroom is very different than time in February. So how to solve the problem is not obvious,” Marcotte added.
Marcotte was a guest on the program along with Superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools Joshua Starr. You can listen to the full discussion on The Kojo Nnamdi Show here.
Pres. Obama speaks at the launch of My Brother’s Keeper. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
On Thursday, February 27, President Obama launched My Brother’s Keeper, a White House initiative that empowers young men of color.
My Brother’s Keeper will partner with businesses, government officials, faith leaders, non-profit organizations and private groups. These groups have pledged to invest in programs aimed at helping men of color, and replicate successful efforts across the country.
Dr. Hrabowski, chair of the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans, attended the event along with national leaders including General Colin Powell, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Congresswoman Marcia Fudge.
Dr. Hrabowski and Pres. Obama at the signing of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans Executive Order in 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
At the event, President Obama said, “Government cannot play the only – or even the primary—role… broadening the horizons for our young men and giving them the tools they need to succeed will require a sustained effort from all of us.”
Learn more about “My Brother’s Keeper” here and Dr. Hrabowski’s involvement with the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans here.
Earlier this month, two Washington County Republican delegates signed on as co-sponsors of a bill that could stop the National Security Agency from operating in Maryland by cutting off utility services to the agency, among other proposals. An article published February 28 in The Herald-Mail examines why delegates Andrew Serafini and Neil Parrott initially supported the measure, titled the Fourth Amendment Protection Act, but later requested that their names be removed from it.
Laura Hussey, an assistant professor of political science, was interviewed for the article and noted the Maryland bill is similar to legislation in other states where the NSA operates and reflects anxiety about the agency and its operations.
Hussey said that 72 percent of those surveyed in a recent Gallup poll said “big government” was a bigger threat than “big business,” adding “the larger issue is the conflict within the Republican Party about the issue. This divide is not unique to Maryland.”
Hussey also predicted aggressive legislation such as the Fourth Amendment Protection Act will not be going away in the near future.
You can read the full article in The Herald-Mail here.
A recent story published on fact-checking website PolitiFact examines a claim by the Texas Liberty PAC that a Republican congressman sponsored a bill that funded the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The claim is that Lamar Smith, a U.S. House member from San Antonio, introduced the 2014 Omnibus Spending Bill, which eventually turned into the primary vehicle through which programs in the ACA were funded.
PolitiFact asked Political Science Professor Roy Meyers to weigh in on the issue. He said that the omnibus bill did provide some funding to administer the ACA, but Smith’s original bill was intended to serve a different purpose.
“So it’s really a classic dirty trick by the Texas Liberty PAC to not acknowledge that the House Rules Committee made this bill the vehicle for passing the Consolidated Appropriations Act, amending the original bill to add all of the appropriations language,” Meyers said.
You can read the full article on the PolitiFact website here.
CSEE’s Dr. Rick Forno, Cybersecurity GPD and Assistant Director of the UMBC Center for Cybersecurity, was a guest on WEAA’s ‘The Marc Steiner Show’ where he joined Dr. Lisa Yeo of Loyola University in discussing cybersecurity issues and best practices in light of recent high-profile data breaches such as those at the University of Maryland, Target, and Indiana University.
Listen to the segment here.
New Books Network recently interviewed Carlo DiClemente, presidential research professor and professor of psychology, about his co-authored book Substance Abuse Treatment and the Stages of Change: Selecting and Planning Interventions (Guilford Press, 2013).
The network, a consortium of author-interview podcasts designed to enhance public conversation on given topics, interviewed DiClemente as part of its “New Books in Alcohol, Drugs and Intoxicants” series.
In a comprehensive interview, DiClemente discussed the stages of change model as it relates to substance abuse and drug addiction treatment, as well the need for careful consideration of stage status and the complexities surrounding substance abuse.
“The message in the book is tailor your treatments to your clients, to the client’s motivation, to the client’s characteristics, to the client’s context, how they live and where they live, and if you’re doing that, then you are at least helping them engage in this process of change,” DiClemente said.
You can listen to the full interview on the New Books Network website here.
Many school districts up and down the East Coast and in the Midwest have been forced to cancel several school days this winter, and some districts in the Northeast have already announced students will forgo part of their spring breaks to make up for lost time.
Public Policy Professor and Graduate Program Director Dave Marcotte was cited in two recent articles in The Atlanta Journal Constitution and Bloomberg Businessweek for a study he did on the impact of winter weather on schools.
“Dave Marcotte, in a 2010 online article for Education Next, found that each additional inch of snow reduced the percentage of third-, fifth-, and eighth-grade students on math assessments by from one-half to seven-tenths of a percentage point,” reads the Bloomberg Businessweek article.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution article cites Marcotte’s research while examining the impact on learning a significant loss of time due to snow days can have on students.
“To put that seemingly small impact in context, Marcotte reports that in winters with average levels of snowfall (about 17 inches) the share of students testing proficient is about 1 to 2 percentage points lower than in winters with little to no snow,” the article stated.
You can read about Marcotte’s research in The Atlanta Journal Constitution here and Bloomberg Businessweek here.