The 4th International Symposium on Acoustic Communication by Animals

July 18-21, 2017, I attended the 4th International Symposium on Acoustic Communication by Animals, , Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium. Here is a brief report.

Conference venue

Henry Doorly Zoo
The Desert and Night Exposition in Henry Doorly ZOO & Aquarium

ISACA took place in Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. I remember the buzz in Czech Republic when Prague Zoo was named as world’s 4th best zoo according to Trip Advisor.  Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo was ranked as the best. With all respect to Prague Zoo, they still have a way to go! This is an example how it looks like in Omaha Zoo: Lied Jungle.

Individual recognition and identity signalling

Overall, there were 54 talks and 7 of them were directly related to IR. Two from four keynote lectures! The topic of individual recognition and identity signalling (IR) is still popular. Zebra finch individuals can be discriminated both within and across call types (F. Theunissen). Dolphins match individual smells / tastes with individual signature whistles (V. Janik). Indris have individually distinct calls and similarity in calls is related to genetic similarity (G. Bonnadonna). Elephant seals do not seem to have stable local dialects. Instead, increasing population size and pressure to be individually distinct might drive huge increase in variation in calls of Elephant seals at the Californian coast (C. Cassey, hypothesis to be tested in future). Females of concave eared frogs call! They have non-linear phenomena in their calls as males do and these non-linear phenomena are characteristic for each individual female (F. Zhang). Up-calls of Northern Right whales are individually distinctive and hopefully could be used for the monitoring purposes of these endangered whales (S. Parks). High proportion of variation in gibbon female great calls can be explained by individuallity rather than by location (D. Clinck).

Amazing talks (no special order)

Vincent Janik

Can you train a seal to sing melody? Yes, you can! Will training of animals to mimic artificial sounds become a new way of documenting animal vocal learning and imitation capabilities of species? Here is one older interview about seal communication.

Erick Greene

Erick showed amazing visualizations of what happens in the forest when birds reveal predator and how this information travels in the forest. It was fun and informative talk. Do you think that naming the beer after your study model counts as broad impact for grant agency? Nope! Bird Alarm call network.  Interview with Erick Greene.  Hiphop song about Erick Greene’s research. ‘Pygmy Owl’ Itty Bitty IPA Beer inspired by Erick Greene’s research model species.

Marta Manser

Marta was talking about different studies conducted within the Kalahari meerkat project. It is amazing what data can you get when you habituate several species of meerkats to researchers presence! Kalahari Research Centre is ever growing and is opened to new projects. Check also for open to volunteer positions!

Laura Kloepper

Do you know what is a biological drone? This was a talk full of personal passion! “I want to know what it is like to be a bat flying in the swarm”.  „I want to fly drones and falcons…”. Here is an inerview with Laura.

Daniel Blumstein

When it comes to distress calls, it does not matter too much if you are a human, a bird, or a marmot… Daniel showed what ‘fear’ sounds like in animal vocalizations or in Hollywood films. “Can you patent this?” „No, you can’t.“ Daniel’s TEDx UCLA talk.

Arik Kershenbaum

Dolphins use specific whistle types when engaged in activities with humans. Are they talking about us? The research was done in a great place with semi-wild, habituated dolphins. And you can visit this place in Izrael! Eilat Reef! International Laboratory for Dolphin Behaviour Research. Eilat Reef review.

Brad Story

Brad Story took us on the fascinating road from a simple speech model to the functional model of human vocal tract that is able to replicate human speech. TubeTalker. Detailed talk about human speech modelling.

Author: Pavel Linhart

Animal Behaviour / Acoustic communication researcher. Polonez Fellow at Adam Mickiewicz University

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