Main Navigation


University Resources


Franz Goller

Professor

Ph.D. University of Notre Dame


Office/Building: ASB 382A
Phone: 801-585-1929
Email: f.goller@utah.edu

Research Statement


We investigate vocal behavior in birds from an integrative perspective. We ask a simple question: How and why do birds produce sound? Our approaches to answer this question span from physics to ecology and evolution. The goal is to understand production mechanisms in a way that will elucidate vocal behavior and its evolution. We currently focus on the following topics: Evolution of vocal behavior and its complexity: How did the vocal organ of birds evolve? How does vocal diversity arise as a product of morphology, physiology and neural control on the one hand and ecological factors on the other? Physiology of sound production: How do birds breathe and sing at the same time? What are the performance limits of vocal muscles and how are they reflected in sound characteristics? Neural control of singing: How is respiratory and motor control of two sound generators coordinated? What is the role of proprioceptive feedback in song maintenance? How are multimodal displays integrated? Development and learning of complex vocal behavior: How do motor patterns develop during song ontogeny? How do visual displays get coordinated with song? Energetics of vocal behavior: What is the metabolic cost of singing and how do energetics affect singing behavior and mate choice in the natural environment?

Specific Interests
  • Behavioral physiology of sound production
  • Neurobiology of vocal learning
  • Evolution of vocal mechanisms
  • Behavioral ecology of vocal communication

Selected Publications


  • Riede T., S.L. Thomson, I.R. Titze and F. Goller (2019). The evolution of the syrinx: An acoustic theory. PLoS Biol 17(2), e2006507.
  • Bush, A., J.F. Döppler, F. Goller, and G.B. Mindlin (2018). Syringeal EMGs and synthetic stimuli reveal a switchlike activation of the songbird’s vocal motor program. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 115, 8436–8441.
  • Kingsley E.P., C.M. Eliason, T. Riede, Z. Li, T.W. Hiscock, M. Farnsworth, S.L. Thomson, F. Goller, C.J. Tabin, and J.A. Clarke (2018). Identity and novelty in the avian syrinx. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 115, 10209–10217.
  • Miles, M.C., F Goller and M.J. Fuxjager (2018). Physiological constraint on acrobatic courtship behavior underlies rapid sympatric speciation in bearded manakins eLIFE 7, e40630.
  • Garcia, S.M., C. Kopuchian, G.B. Mindlin, M.J. Fuxjager, P.L. Tubaro and F. Goller (2017). Evolution of vocal diversity through morphological adaptation without vocal learning or complex neural control. Current Biology 27, 2677-2683.
  • Clarke, J.A., S. Chatterjee, Z. Li, T. Riede, F. Agnolin, F. Goller, M.P. Isasi, D.R. Martinioni, F.J. Mussel, and F.E. Novas (2016). Fossil remains of the avian vocal organ, or syrinx, from the Cretaceous of Antarctica. Nature 538:502-502.
  • Mencio, C., B. Kuberan and F. Goller (2017). Contributions of rapid neuromuscular transmission to the fine control of acoustic parameters of birdsong. J. Neuophysiol. 117:637-645.
  • Goller, F. (2016). Sound production and modification in birds - mechanisms, methodology and open questions. In: Comparative Bioacoustics: An Overview (eds. C. Brown and T. Riede). Bentham Science Publishers, e-book, pp. 165-230. eISBN: 978-1-68108-317-9, 2016.
  • Fuxjager, M.J., F. Goller, A. Dirkse, G.D. Sanin and S. Garcia (2016). Select forelimb muscles have evolved superfast contractile speed to support acrobatic social displays. eLife 5:e13544.
  • T. C. Eliason, E.H. Miller, F. Goller and J.A. Clarke (2016). Coos, booms, and hoots: the evolution of closed-mouth vocal behavior in birds. Evolution 70: 1734-1746.
  • Schmidt, M. and F. Goller (2016). Breathtaking songs: Coordinating the neural circuits for breathing and singing. Physiology 31:442-451.
  • Clarke, J.A., S. Chatterjee, Z. Li, T. Riede, F. Agnolin, F. Goller, M.P. Isasi, D.R. Martinioni, F.J. Mussel, and F.E. Novas (2016). Fossil remains of the avian vocal organ, or syrinx, from the Cretaceous of Antarctica. Nature 538:502-502.

Courses Taught


  • Biol 5350: Ecological Physiology
  • Biol 2010: Evolution and Diversity of Life
  • Biol 5346: SW Natural History
  • Honor 2600: Science & Storytelling