The amazing little tropical birds called manakins are textbook examples of how competition among males for the attentions of the ladies can lead to a rainbow of plumage colors and dancing displays that seem to defy the laws of physics. In this media-rich presentation, we take you on a tour of some of the most remarkable aspects of this family of birds, explore how these traits evolved, and then explain why food and weather have contributed to the evolution of displays, and at the same time, constrain those behaviors in other ways.

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This talk tells the story of why tropical birds migrate up and down mountains every year using the metaphor of a murder mystery. While presenting the results of real research, we do so in a light-hearted framework, and at the same time, demonstrate how the scientific method works in real-life situations.