BIOL 5502 R - Bioacoustics

Web course
The evaluation for this course does not include formal seated exams, so no distance proctoring arrangements are required.

This course aims to explain the physical basis of sound and how sounds are influenced by features of the environment.

Prerequisite(s): permission of the director or associate director of OCIB.

This course has three overarching objectives: 1) to assist you with gaining practical skills in acoustics research (laboratory skills), 2) to provide an overview/exploration of various biological aspects of air-borne sounds and substrate-borne vibrations used for communication within and among various animal species, and 3) to become familiar with the current literature of the field of bioacoustics. This course focuses on terrestrial animal signals, but also touches on certain topics of marine bioacoustics.

There are seven modules of content:
1. The physical basis of sound and vibration
2. Working with sounds and vibration
3. Hearing, hearing organs and transduction mechanisms
4. Sound production
5. Interspecific communication
6. Intraspecific communication
7. Communicating in noisy environments

CRN for section R: 15250

Instructor: Jeffery Dawson

Jeffery Dawson

About the instructor: I am a neuroethologist interested in how animals produce adaptive behaviours. Any insect that flies at night is at risk of predation from insectivorous bats and many possess relatively simple ears for detecting the echolocation calls of bats. Upon detecting the calls of an approaching bat, volant insects such as moths and locusts typically activate defence mechanisms that will remove them from the path of the approaching bat. These defences include changes in body posture and wing kinematics that shift the balance of aerodynamic forces at play effecting a change in flight path. Insects, owing to their relatively simple nervous systems and simple ears, provide an excellent model to study auditory sensorimotor integration mechanisms and the aerodynamic mechanisms necessary for stability and control during rapid escape manoeuvres.

We are just beginning to understand how insects fly and how insects hear and process auditory information. Leading edge research efforts are elucidating the discriminatory mechanisms that insects use for processing sound, the aerodynamic mechanisms insects use for abrupt changes in direction (escape), and most importantly, how this afferent information is integrated with an ongoing flight motor program. These research interests span two seemingly disparate fields – neuroethology and biomechanics, however, between these two fields are fruitful opportunities for collaborative research and the development of new technologies.

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