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Comparative bioacoustics I: Birds & Reptiles 

(3 ECTS) 

In this module we will review the production, nature, function and evolution of acoustic signals in birds and reptiles. Within the framework of the Mathematical Theory of Communication, we will see how birds code information in their vocalizations. We will see how songbirds learn their songs, and the anatomical basis of their production. We will review acoustic communication in Reptiles. We will see how birds and reptiles localize a sound source. We will emphasize the evolutionary drivers of acoustic communication in birds.


© Nicolas Mathevon

Research talks on bird acoustic communication networks and evolution of communication will expose you directly to current research.


Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, a successful student should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of how bird and reptile acoustic signals are produced, structured and perceived;

  2. Demonstrate an understanding of song learning in songbirds;

  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the evolutionary drivers of acoustic communication in birds.

  4. Demonstrate a good understanding of tools for analysing and synthesizing bird songs.


2023 Schedule

Monday 18th September

9-11 am: Information coding in bird sound signals (N.Mathevon)

11-12 am: Assignment of scientific papers

2-4 pm: Strategies for encoding public and private information in sound signals (O.Larsen)

Tuesday 19th September

9-10.30: Song development (N.Mathevon)

10.30-12.30: Multivariate statistical analysis of sound signals (L.Favaro)

2-4 pm: Sound production in birds (L.Favaro)

4.30-5.30 pm: The acoustic basis of species recognition in birds: from embryos to brood parasites (M.Hauber, online)

Wednesday 20th September

8.30-10 am: Acoustic communication in crocodiles (N.Mathevon)

10.30-12 am: Vocal learning in Savannah sparrow (D.Mennill)

2-3 pm: Multimodal perception in crocodiles (N.Caron)

​Thursday 21st September

8.30-10h am: Bird song evolution (A.Kirschel)

10-12 am: Vocal duetting behaviour in tropical wrens (D.Mennill)

2-5 pm: Sound localization (L.Papet)

6-8 pm: The neuroethology of vocal communication in songbirds with zebra finch as an example (J.Elie, F.Theunissen - online)

Friday 22nd September

8.30-10.30 am: Acoustic developmental programming: how prenatal sounds affect development (M.Mariette)

Organiser: Nicolas Mathevon

Guest speakers:  Julie Elie, Livio Favaro, Mark Hauber, Alex Kirschel, Ole Larsen, Mylène Mariette, Dan Mennill, Leo Papet, Leo Papet, Frédéric Theunissen, Nais Caron.


The final mark will be based on a poster (powerpoint slide) presenting a scientific paper.


© Nicolas Mathevon


© Nicolas Mathevon


© Nicolas Mathevon


© Nicolas Mathevon

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