Darren Proppe

Darren Proppe


  • BS in Biology, Texas A & M University in Biology, 1998
  • MS in Applied Ecology, Eastern Kentuky University, 2005
  • PhD in Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, 2010

Professional Experience

  • Assistant Professor, Au Sable Institute, Mancelona, Michigan, 2014 – 2017
  • Assistant Professor, Montreat College, Montreat, North Carolina, 2010 – 2012
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta,  2006 – 2010
  • Avian Biologist, Colorado Division of Wildlife, Fort Collins, Colorado,  2005 – 2006
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, Kentucky, 2003 – 2005
  • Environmental Science Educator, American Outdoor Schools, Coarsegold, California, 2001 –  2003


As an educator, Dr. Proppe strives for a comfortable, yet rigorous, approach to learning about the natural world. He promotes applied learning through hands-on activities, research, and example-driven presentations. He is most invigorated when teaching students while immersing them in the ecosystems they are studying! Perhaps, that is because it is here that the beauty of God’s Creation is most evident.

In his spare time he enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife Sarah, son Elliott, and daughter Grace. He does watch birds off the job too! He also enjoys road and mountain biking, hiking, and backpacking. Past experiences include leading wilderness trips in the West and Midwest, teaching scuba diving in the Caribbean, and teaching environmental education along the West Coast. 

Academic interests

Dr. Proppe is interested in how animals respond to novel environments – especially those altered by human development. His research focuses primarily on the responses of songbirds to the increasing levels of anthropogenic (human caused) noise that overlaps their vocal signals. Since these overlapped signals are less detectable, he is investigating mechanisms that species employ to increase the effectiveness of their signals in areas of high noise. He is also examining the negative impacts of noise on species diversity and fitness, and searching for potential tools to mitigate these negative effects. 

Research and scholarship

  • The effect of anthropogenic noise on songbird behavior and demographics
  • Bioacoustic tools for mitigating the impacts of anthropogenic noise on songbirds
  • Using conspecific song playback to restablish populations of grassland birds
  • The effects of habitat structure on sound transmission
  • The use of thermal drones for locating songbird nests
  • Assessing predation rates on songbird nests at abondoned oil pads
  • Testing the ability of Kaleidoscope Pro software to detect and cluster sounds embedded within anthropogenic noise
  • The impacts of urbanization on animal behavior


  • Yip D.A., Bayne, E.M., Campbell J., & Proppe D.S. 2017. Sound attenuation in forested and roadside environments: Implications for avian point count surveys. Condor, 119(1): 73-84. https://doi.org/10.1650/CONDOR-16-93.1
  • Shepers M. & Proppe D.S. 2017. Song playback increases songbird density near low to moderate use roads. Behavioral Ecology, 28 (1): 123-130. https://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/arw139
  • Proppe D.S., McMillan N., Congdon, J, & Sturdy, C.B. 2017. Mitigating road impacts on animals through learning principles. Animal Cognition, 20(1): 19-31. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10071-016-0989-y
  • Sturdy C.B. & Proppe D.S. 2016. Hearing is believing: Birds learn fear. Learning and Behavior, 44(3): 205-206. https://link.springer.com/article/10.3758/s13420-015-0207-9
  • Pettinga D., Kennedy J., & Proppe D.S. 2016. Common urban birds continue to perceive predator calls that are overlapped by road noise. Urban Ecosystems, 19: 373-382. 10.1007/s11252-015-0498-9
  • DeJong L.N., Cowell S.D., Nguyen T.N., & Proppe D.S. 2015. Attracting songbirds with conspecific playback: A community approach. Behavioral Ecology, 26(5): 1379-1388. https://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/arv094
  • Proppe D.S., Byers K.A., Sturdy C.B., & St. Clair C.C. 2013. Physical condition of black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) in relation to road disturbance. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 91(11): 842-845. http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/abs/10.1139/cjz-2013-0081#.Wam8a62ZOMI
  • Proppe D.S., Sturdy C.B., & St. Clair C.C. 2013. Anthropogenic noise decreases urban songbird diversity and may contribute to homogenization. Global Change Biology, 19(4):1075-1084. 10.1111/gcb.12098
  • Proppe D.S., Avey M.T., Hoeschele M., Moscicki M.K., Farrell T., St. Clair C.C., & Sturdy C.S. 2012. Black-capped chickadees sing at higher pitches with elevated anthropogenic noise, but not with decreasing canopy cover. Journal of Avian Biology. 43:325-332. 10.1111/j.1600-048X.2012.05640.x
  • Proppe D.S., Sturdy C.S. & St. Clair C.C. 2011. Flexibility in animal signals facilitates adaptation to rapidly changing environments. PLoS ONE. 6(9): e25413. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0025413
  • Kociolek A., Clevenger A., St. Clair C.C., & Proppe D.S. 2011. Effects of the road transportation network on bird populations. Conservation Biology. 25(2): 241-249. 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2010.01635.x
  • Proppe D.S., Bloomfield L.L., & Sturdy C.S. 2010. Acoustic transmission of the chick-a-dee call of the black capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus): forest structure and note function. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 88(8): 788-794. http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/abs/10.1139/Z10-047#.Wam9iq2ZOMI

Performances or exhibitions



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