University of St Andrews
 
 
Sea Mammal Research Unit

SMRU News Centre

item 912
[08-03-2012 to 31-12-2012]


News Item:
How You Doin': Dolphins Use Whistles to Say Hello

What does a dolphin say when it crosses oceanic paths with other dolphins? Hello, of course, followed by a formal introduction that’s relayed through a high-pitched “signature whistle.” Marine biologists from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland have long been studying dolphin’s cacophonous communication style — including a series of clicks, pulses and whistles — while the animal is in captivity. But until recently, they questioned how the signature whistles were used in the wild.

Now, they have an answer. The researchers used underwater microphones to follow pods of bottlenose dolphins in St. Andrews Bay. After weeding out some of the other sounds the animals make, they were able to determine that dolphins utilize their “signature whistles” when meeting up with other pods of dolphins — much like a catchphrase. Think, “Hey, how’s it going?” but in whistle form.

“It’s not just ‘I’m so-and-so,’ but the other information also in that whistle is, ‘I’m so-and-so, and I’m interested in making contact in a friendly way, I’m not attacking,’” Vincent Janik, one of the study’s researchers. “What I found really rewarding is to be out there and see how they communicate amongst themselves,” Janik said. “These are wild groups that are just doing whatever they’re doing. It’s really the first time that we can pinpoint down two individual groups and how they interact in a vocal domain, which is really cool.”

see here for further details
contact: Prof Vincent Janik


 

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  • Eavesdropping on whales: working on the challenges of estimating cetacean abundance using passive acoustic data - Danielle Harris - CREEM
    speaker: Danielle Harris (CREEM)

    building: The Observatory
    room: Seminar Eoom
    see also: additional details
    host/contact: Dr Janine Illian

    “Eavesdropping on whales: working on the challenges of estimating cetacean abundance using passive acoustic data”

     

    Acoustic data are increasingly being used to infer cetacean abundance or density.  Recordings of the vocalisations of many species are being collected from both dedicated and opportunistic surveys.  In some circumstances, standard abundance estimation methods can be used to analyse the acoustic data.  However, abundance estimation methods may need to be adapted or novel methods created, especially for use with opportunistic datasets.  In this seminar, I aim to (a) give a general overview of abundance estimation using passive acoustic data and (b) highlight some of the current research areas by focusing on two specific examples.  The first example involves adapting distance sampling methodology to deal with marine mammals at depth.  The motivation for this work came from two sources: monitoring deep diving beaked whales using acoustic equipment towed by ships, and a recently completed project that investigated the potential to monitor fin whales using Ocean Bottom Seismometers.  The second example involves the development of an abundance estimation approach where only the direction to a calling animal is known.  This work is part of a new project that is utilising the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty network of instruments (primarily designed to detect nuclear weapons testing) to monitor blue and fin whales. 

     


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  • SOI seminar: Using data-driven models to explore sea louse infestations on wild and farmed salmon
    speaker: Prof Crawford Revie and Dr Maya Groner (University of Prince Edward Island, Canada)

    building: SOI
    room: Gatty Lecture Theatre
    see also: additional details
    host/contact: Dr Dave Ferrier

    http://healthmgt.upei.ca/crawford-revie

     

    The relationships in any ecological system are affected by many, often interacting, factors and this is certainly true of farmed and wild salmon hosts, and the sea louse species which are amongst the most important of their natural parasites. In particular L. salmonis have been the most significant health threat to Atlantic salmon farming for the past two decades, while the impact of spill-over from these concentrated loci of infestation to wild populations has been a concern in many regions. These health threats and concerns have led to the collection of large data sets some spanning many years, and a range of questions arise as to the best way to model and interpret the relationship that may be present in such data. This talk will present a range of statistical and mathematical modelling approaches that the presenters have explored over the past decade address these challenges.  

     

     

    Dr. Crawford Revie

    Crawford holds the Canada Research Chair in Epi-Informatics at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island, Canada. The main focus of his research involves novel methods to extract and organize knowledge that exists in large/complex epidemiological data sets. He has extensive experience in designing and delivering distributed database solutions in the domains of human and veterinary health. He leads a team of researchers who use epi-informatics approaches to tackle a range of tasks; from the development of web-based fish health databases, through network modelling of zoonotic pathogen spread, to the application of mobile phones in assisting animal health assistants in sub-Saharan Africa.

     

    Dr. Maya Groner

    Maya is a postdoctoral fellow at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island. Maya's research focuses on ecological and evolutionary consequences of infectious disease in aquatic systems including sea louse parasites of salmon, wasting disease in seagrasses and chytridiomycosis in amphibians. Her research employs a range of approaches, from field surveys, to experiments, to theoretical models. Dr. Groner is also a member of the National Science Foundation supported Research Coordination Network on the Ecology of Infectious Marine Diseases.

     


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  • EaStCHEM/BSRC Colloquium Series: The use of enzymes for C-C bond formation and chiral amine synthesis
    speaker: Prof Helen C Hailes (University College London, Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology)

    building: Purdie Building
    room: Lecture Theatre C
    see also: additional details
    host/contact: eli.zysman-colman

    Biocatalysis offers a powerful sustainable strategy for the production of pharmaceuticals and fine chemicals. We have been investigating the use of transketolases, transaminases and norcoclaurine synthases for C-C bond formation and chiral amine synthesis, including reaction cascades. The seminar will present recent studies using these enzymes and other selected reactions in water.


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  • SOI seminar: Comparative diving eco-physiology: a tool to assess environmental change
    speaker: Dr Andreas Fahlman (Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi, USA)

    building: SOI
    room: Gatty Lecture Theatre
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    host/contact: Dr Sascha Hooker

    http://sci.tamucc.edu/member.php?who=afahlman&program=lsci


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  • BSRC Seminar Series: Fragment-based drug discovery- a decade of thinking small
    speaker: Dr Harren Jhoti (Astex Pharmaceuticals)

    building: BMS
    room: Lecture Theatre
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    host/contact: Prof Jim Naismith

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  • SOI seminar: Toothed whales and tooth fish: depredation by marine mammals on fisheries around the Southern Ocean Islands of Kerguelen and Crozet
    speaker: Christope Guine (Centre d'Études Biologiques de Chizé (CEBC))

    building: SOI
    room: Gatty Lecture Theatre
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    host/contact:

    He will be discussing the depredation by sperm whales and killer whales on fisheries in the Crozet  and Kerguelen area that he and Paul Tixier have been doing over the last 10 years.


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