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Karin Akre

Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin


Department of Psychology
Hunter College, Room 1705W
695 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10065


Current Areas of Research

I am interested in how sensory perception and cognitive processing influence the evolution of animal behaviors. I use behavioral experiments to determine how animal communication signals and strategies evolve under the influence of receiver psychology, focusing on features such as memory and discrimination. Recent work examines the broad behavioral impacts of proportional psychophysics—how the nervous system translates physical stimulus magnitude into a perceived amount. I have applied many of these concepts to anuran acoustic communication and mating behavior, and I am now focusing on cephalopods. Current projects analyze interactions based on the visual chromatophore patterns that characterize squid mating behaviors and cuttlefish feeding behaviors.  

Representative Publication List: 

  1. Akre, K.L., Bernal, X.E., Rand, A. S., and Ryan, M.J. 2014. Harmonic calls and indifferent females: No preference for human consonance in an anuran. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 281(1789).
  2. Akre, K.L. and Johnsen, S. 2014. Psychophysics and the evolution of behavior. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 29(5), 291-300.
  3. Akre, K.L., Farris, H. E., Lea, A.M., Page, R.A., and Ryan, M.J. 2011. Signal perception in frogs and bats and the evolution of mating signals. Science 333, 751-752.
  4. Akre, K.L. and Ryan, M.J.  2010.  Complexity increases working memory of mating signals. Current Biology 20(6), 502-505.