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The Sensory Ecology and Bioacoustics Lab

An Introduction to Our Lab's Research

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The Lab organization. We typically start with questions and measurements of the organism and place them in the results in the context of ecological interactions and anthropogenic impacts. Our work as a bioacoustics focus.

Aran Mooney on a research cruise in Icelandic waters.

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Aran Mooney on a research cruise in Icelandic waters.

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Loligo pealeii (Tom Kleindinst)

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Spotted dolphins riding our wake

Related Files

» Mooney's CV Feb 2012

Research Interests
Welcome to the Sensory Ecology and Bioacoustics Lab website!  Our research is in the sensory biology of animals, primarily marine organisms.  Specifically I am interested in how these animals detect the world around them, what they detect (i.e., what's important to the organism), and how these animals then relate to their environment (e.g., predator detection, prey localization, habitat identification, and conspecific communication).  Our work in integrative in techniques and comparative in its research subjects. Our reserach involves dolphins, false killer whales, belugas, finless porpoise, risso's dolphin, squid, cuttlefish, coral reef fish, temperate fish, brown bears, polar bears, coral reef assemblages, and temparate soundscapes to name a few.  Much of our work addressing bioacoustic related questions, but we certainly not limited to that modality. Some of this work stems from examining the potential influences of increasing human-produced noise in the marine environment or other stressors such as ocean acidification or fisheries bycatch. But our primary interests originate in examining the relationship of sensory physiology/sensory anatomy to animal behavior and ecological relationships.  We have also addressed communication, bioacoustic tagging, and the sending-receiving of underwater acoustic signals using passive acoustic monitoring devices.

Check out our research updates on our Blog:

Sensory Ecology

Read about our research expeditions and travels!

News and Updates !

- Check out two new papers by Max on our coral reef soundscape work in the US Virgin Islands.
One pairs community composition with the acoustic soundscape of the area (and reefs of varying quality). The other addresses the occurence of boat noise in the area.

- Ashlee Lillis, a new Postdoc joined our Lab a month ago. Very exciting. And she just had a new paper published: the first field evidence that soundscape cues may attract the larval settlers of a reef-building estuarine invertebrate.

- Ashlee is also giving the Biology Department Seminar today (June 11, 2015).

- We have two new articles coming out. The first is a paper on hearing pathways in Risso's dolphins, work that was conducted with Darlene Ketten and collaborators in Taiwan. This was published in May, 2015 in the Journal of Comparative Physiology, A.

- The second is a paper in press, which describes our new ITAG, an behavior and eco-sensor designed specifically for soft-bodied invertebrates like squid and jellyfish. This work will be published in Animal Biotelemetry.

- At the end of the month Aran, Max and Tammy head to the Watkins Memorial Marine Mammal Bioacoustics Symposium. This is a Symposium to present current research and honor Bill Watkins, a founder of marine mammal bioacoustic research from WHOI. Check out our invited talks, posters and the other presentations at the website above.

- Aran and Max just returned from some great fieldwork in Maui. Check out our blog (noted above).

- Happy New Year! The end of the year seems to have ended with a BANG. Great new publication out on cuttlefish behaviorally responding to sound.  A long time in the making but we are very proud of this work. Way to go Julia!  See the article in JEB or on our publications page. There's also an update on the AAAS's Eureka Alert! and elsewhere.

- Check out the new video on our squid and ocean acidification research by Oceanus magazine.

- We published two new articles this past few weeks. One on a new method to image squid hair cells and aminoglycoside-inducing damage to those hair cells. The other is on assessing the call patterns in melon-headed whales (a sound sensitive marine mammal species). See their links below and our publications page for the pdfs.

- Aran is a co-author on a new research review on Ocean Acidification. The work presents a research framework for studying OA that describes it as a biogeochemical event that impacts individual species and ecosystems in potentially unexpected ways. We characterize the links between carbon chemistry changes and effects on individuals and ecosystems, and enumerate key hypotheses for testing. Finally, we quantify how U.S. research funding has been distributed among these linkages, concluding that there is an urgent need for research programs designed to anticipate how the effects of OA will reverberate throughout assemblages of species.