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Roslyn Dakin, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow
B.S. and Ph.D., Queen’s University

Roslyn Dakin is a postdoctoral fellow with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Migratory Bird Center. The goal of her research is to understand how the physiological mechanisms that drive behavior evolve, and how this allows organisms to respond to diverse challenges in nature. To this end, she develops high-throughput behavioral assays that can be linked experimentally to physiology at the biomechanical, neurological, endocrine and molecular levels. At SCBI, Dakin works with Brandt Ryder to study the social behavior of wire-tailed manakins. This work leverages Ryder’s proximity logging system to track the movements of an entire population of manakins during their cooperative courtship displays in Ecuador, to understand the factors that promote cooperation.

Before joining SCBI, Dakin’s research revealed how hummingbirds visually control forward flight. She has also identified the physical traits and environmental conditions that endow hummingbirds with their remarkable maneuverability. Her work helps to understand how birds respond to challenges in nature, while also providing insight for new bio-inspired flight technologies.
Dakin completed her M.S. and Ph.D. at Queen’s University in Canada, where she worked with Bob Montgomerie on the courtship behaviors and iridescent plumage colors of peacocks. In 2014, she was awarded a Canadian NSERC postdoctoral fellowship to work with Doug Altshuler at the University of British Columbia.
Dakin is fascinated by the weird and diverse things that animals do to impress mates. She likes sailing and long distance running and lives with her husband and daughter.
Recent Publications: 

“Visual guidance of forward flight in hummingbirds reveals control based on image features instead of pattern velocity.“ Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2016:113. R. Dakin, T.K. Fellows and D.L. Altshuler.

“Burst muscle performance predicts the speed, acceleration, and turning performance of hummingbirds.” eLife, 2015. P.S. Segre, R. Dakin, A.D. Straw, V.B. Zordan, M.H. Dickinson and D.L. Altshuler.

“Eye for an eyespot: how iridescent ocelli influence peacock mating success.” Behavioral Ecology, 2013:24. R. Dakin and R. Montgomerie.