Foraging big brown bats use social calls to ward off competitors

Genni Wright has been studying social calls by flying big brown bats. She found that males produce distinct calls when foraging for food, and that they use these social calls to ward off competitors and claim aerial insects. Prey defense was one of the first functions of social calls suggested by field evidence in 1997 … Continue reading Foraging big brown bats use social calls to ward off competitors

The scientific pleasures of ignorance (and other big picture stuff)

This blogpost grows out of a number of recent conversations about “science”-- what it is, how to do it, and why. Whenever my research involves truly boring, tedious things (like scoring hours of video footage), my mind starts to wander off to all kinds of  such philosophical things. Y’know, big picture stuff. (Not that big … Continue reading The scientific pleasures of ignorance (and other big picture stuff)

A workshop on analyzing vocal sequences

I just returned from a 4-day NIMBioS workshop on computational analysis of animal vocal sequences. The workshop was led and organized by NIMBios PostDoc Fellow Arik Kershenbaum, prolific animal behaviorist Dan Blumstein, and bioacoustics-specialist and computer scientist Marie Roch, and included about 40 other researchers from diverse fields such as cognitive science, human speech processing, animal communication, and even philosophy. … Continue reading A workshop on analyzing vocal sequences

Cooperative male alliances in bats

A paper just published on gelada baboons entitled "Concessions of an alpha male? Cooperative defence and shared reproduction in multi-male primate groups" claims to be among the first demonstrations of cooperative male defense of a female group in a mammal. But the authors seemed to have forgotten that bats are also mammals. A little background: most mammals live in … Continue reading Cooperative male alliances in bats

Richard Dawkins and good writing

A couple of posts ago, I wrote a review of E. O. Wilson's recent book on the evolution of human and insect cooperation, The Social Conquest of Earth. Someone pointed out to me recently that Richard Dawkins, one of the best science writers alive today, later wrote one himself here. Although we both wrote a negative … Continue reading Richard Dawkins and good writing