OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

OSU to Host International Conference on Animal Communication

07/31/2008

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Leading researchers in the field of animal acoustics will gather Aug. 12-15 at Oregon State University to share the latest findings on how animals communicate as well as the latest in technological advancements that allow scientists to study that communication.

This is the second conference on Acoustic Communication by Animals; the inaugural meeting was held at the University of Maryland in 2003.

The conference is important to researchers, organizers say, because it is the only international meeting to focus solely on animal acoustic communication. The topic is often discussed briefly at different professional meetings that may draw experts from narrow fields such as marine mammals, birds, insects, rodents or amphibians, but acoustic experts rarely get a chance to discuss their research across disciplines.

“The field is developing rapidly and this conference gives us a chance to share information on animal bioacoustics that is as important as it is fascinating,” said David Mellinger, a co-organizer of the conference and associate professor at Oregon State University based at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. “Until recently, the field has focused on description of sounds, how sound is used for communication, how sound is produced, and how sound is detected.

“More recently, however, investigators have been taking a broader approach that looks at acoustic communication from the context of evolution, learning, ecology, social interaction and overall behavior,” he added. “There also is growing interest in the genetic basis of communication.”

The conference will be held at OSU’s LaSells Stewart Center, located at 26th Street and Western Boulevard in Corvallis.

About 250 researchers from around the world are expected to attend the conference, including experts in bird song, marine mammal communication, rodent sounds, insect vibration and bat sonar.

The conference is supported by the Office of Naval Research, the Marine Mammal Commission, the Minerals Management Service, the National Park Service and other organizations. Among the topics to be discussed are:

• The evolution of hearing; • Sound detection and echolocation by bats;
• Sound detection and echolocation by dolphins;
• Chorus dynamics in frogs;
• Low-frequency sound reception by elephants;
• Mammalian sound communication;
• Bird hearing;
• Communication in fishes, including fish hearing and sound production;
• Acoustic communication in house mice;
• Cetacean behavior and vocalizations.