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Comparative bioacoustics II: Mammals (Week 3, 3 ECTS)

 

In this module we will review the production, nature, function and evolution of mammal vocal signals. We will see how mammalian vocalisations are produced and how this ensures the encoding of both static (indexical) and dynamic (emotional, motivational) information. We will see how this information is encoded in three key contexts: sexual communication, parent-offspring interactions, and social interactions. 

In parallel during lab- and computer-based practical sessions we will review cutting edge methods and tools for analysing and synthesising mammal vocalisations. Research talks, on e.g. the evolution of size communication (D. Reby), dog-human vocal interactions (Mathilde Massenet), Lemur vocal signals  (Daria Valente) or even on what the acoustics of brass instruments can teach us about elephant calls (Joel Gilbert) will expose you directly to current research in these fast-expanding areas of comparative vocal communication.

© David Reby

Learning outcomes

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

1. Demonstrate an understanding of how mammal vocal signals are produced, structured and perceived.

2. Demonstrate familiarity with main issues and current topics relating to the function and evolution of mammalian vocal communication.

3. Demonstrate a good understanding of tools for analysing and synthesising mammal vocal signals.

 

Assessment

The final mark will be based on a portfolio, in which you will collate the exercises completed during the practical sessions.

 

2022 Schedule

Monday 26th September

Morning Lecture (9-12): Presentation of the module. The anatomy of the mammalian vocal apparatus. Production and acoustics of the mammalian vocalisations. The source filter theory (D. Reby). Nonlinear phenomena (D. Reby).

Afternoon Practical (13:30-17:30): Dissection of a fallow deer larynx. Investigating imaging data for vocal tract modelling using Horos (D. Reby, L. Barluet, D. Valente).

 

Tuesday 27th September

Morning Lecture (9-12): Indexical cues in mammal vocal signals. Morton MS rules, Ohala’s size code. The evolution of size communication: Honesty and exaggeration (D. Reby).

Afternoon Practical (13:30-17:30): Visualising mammal vocal signals with PRAAT. Measuring F0, Formants and estimating vocal tract length. Psola resynthesis (D. Reby, D. Valente, M. Massenet).

 

Wednesday 28th September

Morning workshop: (9-12): How to study a vocal behaviour from production to evolution: from sound analyses to designing playback experiments (M. Massenet, D. Reby, D. Valente). Research talk by Mathilde Massenet.

Afternoon workshop (13:30-17:30):Synthesising animal vocal signals with Soundgen (A. Anikin, D. Reby, M. Massenet).

 

Thursday 29th September

Morning practical (9-13): Field trip to St Martin Zoo: recording chimpanzee calls (Florence Levréro & Catherine Crockford).

Afternoon Practical (13:30-17:30): Editing and analysing morning recordings (Florence Levréro & Catherine Crockford).

 

Friday 30th September

Morning (9-12): Research talk(s) by Daria Valente (Lemur Vocal Communication) & Veronika Beeck (Vocal plasticity in elephants).

Afternoon (13-16): supervised study time (D. Reby). - portfolio submission @ 4pm.

Organiser and tutor: David Reby

Tutors: Florence Levrero, Andrey Anikin, Daria Valente, Lucie Barluet, Mathilde Massenet.

Guests Speakers: Daria Valente, Veronika Beeck, Joel Gilbert, Catherine Crockford.