Sarah Partan

Associate Professor of Animal Behavior
Hampshire College Professor Sarah Partan
Contact Sarah

Mail Code CS
Sarah Partan
Adele Simmons Hall 131
413.559.5559

Sarah Partan, associate professor of animal behavior, received her Ph.D. in animal behavior from the University of California, Davis, and her B.A. in biopsychology from Wesleyan University.

Her research interests are in the areas of animal social behavior and communication. She is particularly interested in multisensory signaling: how and why animals (including humans) combine signals from multiple sensory channels during communication.

She has studied these and related questions in observational studies of wild African elephants; rhesus macaques; squirrels and lizards; and in controlled laboratory studies of birds and dolphins.

Partan is currently creating mechanized animals that simulate animal displays to use in field playback experiments that combine the rigor of laboratory experiments with the natural setting of the field environment.

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Recent and Upcoming Courses

  • The goal of this class is to build a long-term database of wildlife diversity on Hampshire property. Our environment, both local and global, is dramatically changing, and it is important to document biodiversity now before we lose species we may not have realized were here. Students in this exploratory class will work together to learn to identify and document our local fauna. We will spend a good deal of time exploring our woods to learn together what is there. We will add our observational data to our own citizen science database project in iNaturalist, and will learn how to summarize, analyze, and make use of the data. We will also examine how long-term databases are used by other research groups, and explore other citizen science research projects. No experience necessary, however students with interest in natural history, animal identification, and computer databases are particularly encouraged to join the class. Keywords: wildlife, animals, birds, Citizen Science, Natural History

  • The climate crisis is profoundly affecting animals in many ways, from their behavior to their location to their survival. How can we best help wildlife and domestic animals to survive and cope? In this course we will identify problems of concern for animals facing climate change, including wildlife and also domestic animals at the Campus Farm. Students will then research solutions both in the current scientific literature and also through accessing appropriate sources of Indigenous and Traditional Ecological Knowledge, which can provide us with a longer historical view. Synthesizing ideas from multiple knowledge systems, especially those with different methods and time frames, will be key for developing effective and sustainable solutions for the future. Students will present their research and their recommendations throughout the semester.

  • In this course we will study research methods for observing, coding, and analyzing animal behavior. We will practice behavior sampling and recording techniques both with domestic animals at the farm and with wild animals in the campus woods. Behaviors observed will include social behavior, foraging, and communication behavior. Students will carry out independent team projects on a species at the Hampshire Farm or woods, and will be expected to consult the primary scientific literature to learn about their species and topics. We will examine how to summarize, analyze, and present data. Students will work with spreadsheets and make graphs to present their data as well calculate inter-observer reliability scores. Papers and presentations will be due for each project. Key words: animal behavior, biology, methods