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Pettingill Endowed Research Seminar: "Understanding Behavioral Responses of Animals to a Noisy World"

Wednesday, July 10, 2013
4:00 AM
Alumni Room, Gates Lecture Hall, UMBS, 9133 Biological Rd., Pellston, MI 49769

The world is becoming increasing urbanized, with the growth of the human population over the next 50 years protected to occur almost entirely in cities. For organisms that rely on vocal communication to achieve fitness, whether for territory defense, mate attraction, or predator detection, one of the most important outcomes of urbanization are high levels of anthropogenic noise. Anthropogenic noise is intense low frequency sound, which originates from vehicular traffic and residential and industrial machinery. 

Anthropogenic noise contracts the acoustic space available for wildlife and influences patterns of signal degradation, thereby potentially altering the distance over which animal signals may be detected, the information in signals, and the way signals are perceived and processed by receivers. Evidence is accumulating that animals inhabiting noisy urban areas adjust the temporal and spectral characteristics of their vocalizations to avoid masking by anthropogenic noise, but additional mechanisms to deal with noise are rarely considered. 

In this talk, Dr. Gill will explore the idea that multiple solutions, in addition to signal adjustments, exist to the problems of signaling noise, by considering additional components of signaling behavior that are predicted by signaling models to vary with environmental conditions.

Dr. Sharon Gill is an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Western Michigan University. The main focus of her research is avian ecology and evolution in temperate and tropical environments.