Assistant 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.
This course will survey the main theoretical ideas in animal behavior. We will explore physiological, developmental, functional and evolutionary bases of behavior as well as issues in the study of communication and cognition. The main reading and discussion material for the course will be John Alcock's textbook, "Animal Behavior: an Evolutionary Approach". Readings will also be drawn from journal articles in the professional scientific literature, and emphasis will be given to studies focusing on marine mammals where appropriate. Students will be expected to be active participants in class discussions. In addition, students will give presentations and write summary/critique papers on two journal articles, and prepare a final project (format to be determined) on a research topic of the student's choosing, which will be presented to the whole class.
Cetaceans (whales and dolphins) are often considered to be among the smartest creatures on Earth. Popular accounts abound of tool use, self-recognition, name-like signals, complex songs, and intricate societies. But what do we really know? We will read scientific literature as well as a recent book about the topic, "Deep Thinkers," and discuss topics such as brain size and structure, cognition, communication, social behavior, culture, tool use, and conservation issues relevant to cetaceans. We will compare so-called intelligence markers of cetaceans with those of birds, bats, and primates, and discuss if and how intelligence might be defined in nonhumans. Students will be expected to actively participate in class discussions. In addition, students will give presentations and write summary/critique papers on two journal articles, and prepare a final project on a research topic of the student's choosing, which will be presented to the whole class.
This course will explore the main theoretical ideas and methods of the scientific study of animal behavior. It is the second of a two-course sequence, although students who did not take the first semester are welcome to enroll (they will be expected to do some extra reading in preparation). We will continue to explore the functional and evolutionary bases of animal behavior, including altruism, social behavior, reproductive behavior, mating systems, parental care, the influence of neural systems on behavior, and animal cognition. Students will also continue to put into practice some of the ways that scientists observe, record and measure behavior in the natural world. The main reading and discussion material for the course will be drawn from John Alcock's textbook, Animal Behavior, supplemented by journal articles from the scientific literature. Assignments will include (but are not limited to) two summary/critique papers on journal articles and a full-length term paper and oral presentation on a topic of the student's choosing.
This course is designed to provide an introduction to the biology of the diverse group of animals known as marine mammals (whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, manatees, sea otters, and polar bears), including evolution, diversity/taxonomy, life history, physiology, ecology, behavior, communication and cognition. Current research, events and policy issues will also be addressed. Hands-on analyses of marine mammal recordings will also be included. Reading and discussion material will be drawn from the professional scientific literature. Two summary/critique papers on journal articles will be required, along with a report on a media account relevant to the themes of the course, and a full-length term paper on a species and research topic of the student's choosing. The final project will be presented to the whole class either orally or in a poster session.