Recently Daniela and I had the exciting opportunity to travel to Omaha, Nebraska, to convene with researchers from all over the world at the 4th International Symposium on Acoustic Communication by Animals.
The symposium brought together the international community of researchers and students working on a variety of topics related to how animals produce, perceive, and use acoustic signals. Presentations covered acoustic communication in birds, amphibians, elephants, bats, big and small cats, rats, mice, marine mammals, humans – and even insects and spiders! One of my favorite talks was about “Distant early warning systems in the forest: Encoding and decoding alarm calls in multi-species communication networks” given by Professor Erick Greene from the University of Montana. It was interesting to learn about how different bird species respond to alarm calls.
I was very excited to present my recent results on echolocation clicks produced by wild Guiana dolphins in Southeastern Brazil, and Daniela presented her work entitled “Rapid attenuation of low frequency calls suggests restricted long distance communication in African forest elephants”.
Before the symposium, we also attended the workshop on “The impact of anthropogenic noise on animal acoustic communication”. This workshop was a great opportunity to learn and discuss how the ever increasing noise produced by cars, boats, and airplanes impacts animal communication and behavior. After a few talks held by leading experts on the topic, we had a very fruitful group discussion that helped us identifying the largest sources of scientific uncertainty in noise impact assessment and the future priorities for noise management actions.
In addition, the organizers had scheduled a very special event: “An afternoon with secondary school students”, which welcomed local high school students to attend presentations. It was a fantastic opportunity for us to meet with the next generation of behavioral scientists and to get young people excited about bioacoustics!
Besides listening to other researchers presenting their exciting new findings, the conference gave ample opportunity to mingle, socialize, and forge new collaborations. From breakfast at our hotel, during coffee breaks, to fun evening dinners in Omaha’s charming Old Market, we had captivating discussions about the latest acoustic recording methods to whistling caterpillars and dialects in elephant seals!