Associate Professor of Animal Behavior
Her research focuses on social behavior and communication of cetaceans (whales and dolphins). Her current projects focus on a wide range of species, including blue whales, fin whales, pilot whales, and bottlenose dolphins, and are both applied (e.g., looking at effects of anthropogenic noise on communication) and basic (e.g., looking at call structure and function). Given the challenges of studying species that spend most of their lives underwater, she is involved in research that utilizes new technologies, such as non-invasive tags, to study cetacean communication systems.
The traditional view of intelligence ranging from low to high, with humans at the top, has been challenged by research on diverse aspects of animal cognition. Recent studies suggest that cognition takes many different forms in animals and can be very difficult to compare to humans. We will talk about a wide range of animals - including octopuses, crows, dogs, monkeys, apes, dolphins, and whales - from the joint perspectives of cognitive science, animal behavior, and evolutionary biology. We will focus on capacities that have been considered hallmarks of intelligence, such as tool use, mirror self-recognition, innovation, culture, and of course, language. Rather than assessing how human-like these abilities are, we will view these studies with an eye to how each species' intelligence is adapted to its own unique needs. Students will read from the professional scientific literature, and carry out hands-on research projects with animals at the Hampshire Farm. Key Words: behavioral ecology, animal learning, animal consciousness, hands on experiments, farm animals
This course will survey the main theoretical ideas and methods of the scientific study of animal behavior. We will explore functional and evolutionary bases of animal behavior, including reproductive behavior, mating systems, parental care, altruism, social behavior, communication, and cognition. We will bolster these topics with examples from scientific studies of marine mammals, in particular whales and dolphins. The main goals of the course are to instill excitement and curiosity about the subject, and to provide conceptual foundations and intellectual tools to think creatively and critically about animal behavior and science in general. Readings will come from a variety of books and primary scientific literature. Students are expected to both lead and be active participants in class discussions. In addition, students will prepare written responses to readings, and carry out a research project, which will be written up and presented to the class. (Keywords: Zoology, Biology)
The diverse and seemingly complex vocalizations of whales and dolphins (cetaceans) have long fascinated people and have led to suggestions of "language"-like communication. We will take a "deep dive" into what is actually known (and not known) about cetacean communication in this course, through readings and discussions of current scientific literature. We will also do hands-on analyses of existing bioacoustic data sets, recorded from a variety of cetacean species, such as blue whales, pilot whales, and several dolphin species. Students will be expected to actively participate in and lead some class discussions. Each student or team of students will choose one aspect of data analysis on which to focus, and will develop that analysis into a research project that will include a final paper in publishable format. In addition, each student or team will present their work to the entire class.