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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 !

This article on sound in the ocean highlights some of our recent projects and was just released on National Geographic Ocean Views. Check it out!


"Sound and the Sea" by Jessica Perelman

Many natural and man-made sources contribute to ocean soundscapes. Credit: Mike Thompson, NOAA/SBNMS.

Credit: Mike Thompson, NOAA/SBNMS

Our current post-doc, Ashlee Lillis, talks about her experimental work with snapping shrimp. Hear what all the noise is about in this audio story, "Eavesdropping on Shrimp's Snap Chat" by Oceanus Magazine.

Check out this New York Times article, "Whales Can Really Rock With Their Mellow Songs," featuring our work on humpback whale song vibrations.

- We recently published three new papers! The first examines changes within squid egg capsules to address the conditions in which these animals develop.

- The second describes the behavioral responses of the longfin squid to a range of sounds and how these behaviors change over multiple exposures.

- The third paper looks at how biological noise produced on coral reefs may affect the settlement of marine larvae.

- We just published a new paper! It's a 'listen' to cusk eel sounds on Horseshoe Shoal, here in Nantucket Sound, off of Cape Cod.

- 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.

- 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.

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