Term Assistant Professor
Coordinator for Biology 103 and 104
George Mason University
4400 University Dr., MS 3E1
Fairfax VA 22030
Courses at GMU
Animal Behavior 472
My teaching philosophy is student-centered and incorporates active learning and in-class assessments. These practices allow for a diversity of students to learn the course material in a manner appropriate to their individual learning styles. I have found that incorporating student participation in the learning process allows students to arrive at and explore questions themselves, which helps them to better understand fundamental concepts and the scientific process.
My research addresses questions at the intersection of behavioral and community using birds as a model group. I am also interested in the ecological and evolutionary processes that lead to species assembly and endemism, with salt marshes and mangroves as my study systems. Finally, I am just starting to embark on a new line of research that focuses on conservation management strategies for globally endangered species.
My research program focuses on:
(1) The interaction between community ecology, the local sound environment, and
animal communication strategies
(2) A greater understanding of the factors that result in ecological speciation and generate
endemic species in coastal wetland ecosystems
(3) Conservation of mangrove-restricted species and their habitats
Popular Press articles about research projects
How city noise is reshaping birdsong – October 2009
Mangrove-dependent animals globally threatened –July 2009
ItŐs no sweat for salt marsh sparrows to beat the heat if they have a larger bill – August 2011
Russ Greenberg – Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center
Elizabeth Derrberry – Tulane University
Candy Feller – Smithsonian Ecological Research Center
Diane Ebert-May – Michigan State University
Mitch Aide – University of Puerto Rico
Luther, D. A. and E.P. Derryberry. 2011. Rapid cultural evolution in an urban songbird affects communication. In Press. Animal Behaviour.
Downing J., D. Luther, P. Marra. 2011. Comparative effects of urban development and anthropogenic noise on bird songs. In Press. Behavioral Ecology.
Greenberg, R., R. Danner, B. Olsen, and D. Luther. 2011. High summer temperature explains bill size variation in salt marsh sparrows. Ecography. 000:001-007. PDF
Luther, D.A. and R. Greenberg. 2011. The island syndrome in coastal wetland ecosystems: convergent evolution of large bills in mangrove passerines. Auk. 128 (2):201-204. PDF
Luther, D.A., M.A. Acevedo, M.I. Herrera Montes, A.R. Estrada, T.M. Aide. 2010. Is congener abundance related to vocal adjustments that minimize acoustic interference? In Press. Caribbean Journal of Science.
Luther, D.A. and L. Baptista. 2010. Does urban noise influence the cultural evolution of bird songs? Proceedings of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences. 277:469-473. pdf
Luther, D.A. and R. Greenberg. 2009. A global perspective on the evolution and conservation of terrestrial vertebrate species in mangroves. BioScience. 59:602-612. PDF
Luther, D.A. 2009. The acoustic community and its influence on signal evolution: bird song in the Neotropics. Behavioral Ecology. 20:864-871. PDF
Luther, D.A. et al. 2008. Assessing the impact of local habitat variables and landscape context on riparian birds in agricultural, urbanized, and native landscapes. Biodiversity and Conservation. 17:1923-1935. PDF
Luther, D.A. 2009. Mangrove Hummingbird (Amazilia boucardi), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: http://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/portal/species/overview?p_p_spp=25358
Luther, D.A. 2009. Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird (Lepidopyga lilliae), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: http://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/portal/species/overview?p_p_spp=25190