Through War and Peace, These Doves Rock

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Through War and Peace, These Doves Rock

2021-10-08T12:52:53-07:00 October 8th, 2021|Arts, Biology|

By Daniel Erenstein, Neurobiology, Physiology & Behavior ‘21


“The diversity of the breeds is something astonishing,” Charles Darwin wrote in “On the Origin of Species.” He was not referring to his famous Galápagos finches. Instead, Darwin opened his foundational work by commenting on various breeds of the domestic pigeon, all descended from a common ancestor: Columba livia. Widely known as the rock dove, this species has adapted to urban environments throughout human history. Over time, we have kept pigeons for fairs, racing, message carrying in wartime, and even scientific research.

Since joining the B3 Lab at UC Davis in 2020, I have contributed to research on this model organism. The B3 name, short for Birds, Brains, and Banter, represents the lab’s main goals: to study rock doves and how stress affects their reproductive behaviors, and to advance culturally relevant science communication research and training. In April, I presented a project on how single parenting affects the amygdala, often considered the brain’s “emotional center,” at the UC Davis Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities Conference. This research helps us to understand the impacts of single parenting in humans, and it could lead to insights that mitigate stresses felt by single parents and their children.

These photographs were captured in the B3 aviary via iPhone 7 camera during 2020 and 2021.