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Research: Sound of Conservation Lab

Professor Darren Proppe's Research

Funding sources

Pierce Cedar Creek Institute - URGE
Plaster Creek Stewards
Calvin College Science Division
Cargill Fund

Field locations

Pierce Cedar Creek Institute
Plaster Creek

Lab members

Darren ProppeDarren Proppe

I am interested in how animals respond to novel environments – especially those altered by human development. My research focuses primarily on the vocal responses of songbirds to the increasing levels of anthropogenic (human caused) noise that overlaps their vocal signals. Since these overlapped signals are less detectable, I am investigating mechanisms that species employ to increase the effectiveness of their signals in areas of high noise. I am also investigating the potential that noise exacerbates the loss of some species and homogenation in developed landscapes.

Jenna KennedyJenna Kennedy

I am majoring in Biology and minoring in Public Health.  I am interested in behavior, health, and sustainability.  I love spending time with friends, sailing, and painting.  I am looking forward to learning more about birds this summer and how noise affects their behavior. 



Emily FinchEmily Finch

I am going into my third year at Calvin College as an Environmental Science major, Biology concentration, and a minor in Spanish. I have a passion for the environment: conserving it, studying it, and just enjoying the great outdoors. I am so blessed by the ways I have been able to act out all of these things. I live on a themed floor in my dorm that is dedicated to environmental stewardship and outdoor recreation. So I have been able to go sea kayaking in Lake Michigan and do prairie restoration work in Kent County. Because of my course of study, I have learned so much about not only ecosystem biology, but other disciplines as well such as cell biology and genetics. The knowledge I have gained has come into good use as well as this past year I had the pleasure of serving in a new student leadership position at Calvin College as a Sustainability Coordinator which meant that I helped educate the Calvin Community about environmental issues as well as encourage others to find ways to help out the planet whether through small things like recycling or using a reusable water bottle or bigger things like helping to clean up the Grand River. It is this kind of work that I really enjoy: finding ways to help bring the planet back to a healthier state through my research and then joining with others to do our share and become better stewards of our home.

Because I enjoy research that will help us better understand our impacts in the environment, I am excited to be researching the effects of urbanization on bird singing patterns. I am also thrilled to be working with birds because I am on my way to becoming an avid birder. I started three years ago in my last year of high school with a biology class. Our last unit was birding and I loved it. Sitting and listening to the sounds around me trying to pick out which bird is coming from which direction and then training my binoculars on one was so perfect to me: it was peaceful and relaxing to listen to nature, but thrilling trying to find the bird, identify it, and then quickly sketch it in my bird book. I look forward to improving my skills and doing more in-depth work with birds.

Dean PettingaDean Pettinga
My name is Dean Pettinga. I'm a proud native Michigander biology student graduating from Calvin in 2014. I have a special interest in both conservation and restoration ecology, especially within watershed systems. These large systems support an endless amount of chemical and ecological systems to study. I enjoy studying not only wildlife and chemical systems, but also how humans interact as highly influential actors in these systems. My other biological interests included alpine ecology, wildflower identification, and marine creatures. Since I was a kid, I've always had a keen interest in cephalopods and creatures of the deep sea. Apart from biology, I love bicycling, hiking, and traveling when I can. I love films of all varieties. I'm also an audiophile, always looking for fresh new music especially concerning the endless diversity and creativity wrapped up in the ever-evolving world of hip-hop music.



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