University of St Andrews
 
 

School of Biology News Centre

item 912
[08-03-2012 to 31-12-2012]


News Item:
How You Doin': Dolphins Use Whistles to Say Hello

What does a dolphin say when it crosses oceanic paths with other dolphins? Hello, of course, followed by a formal introduction that’s relayed through a high-pitched “signature whistle.” Marine biologists from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland have long been studying dolphin’s cacophonous communication style — including a series of clicks, pulses and whistles — while the animal is in captivity. But until recently, they questioned how the signature whistles were used in the wild.

Now, they have an answer. The researchers used underwater microphones to follow pods of bottlenose dolphins in St. Andrews Bay. After weeding out some of the other sounds the animals make, they were able to determine that dolphins utilize their “signature whistles” when meeting up with other pods of dolphins — much like a catchphrase. Think, “Hey, how’s it going?” but in whistle form.

“It’s not just ‘I’m so-and-so,’ but the other information also in that whistle is, ‘I’m so-and-so, and I’m interested in making contact in a friendly way, I’m not attacking,’” Vincent Janik, one of the study’s researchers. “What I found really rewarding is to be out there and see how they communicate amongst themselves,” Janik said. “These are wild groups that are just doing whatever they’re doing. It’s really the first time that we can pinpoint down two individual groups and how they interact in a vocal domain, which is really cool.”

see here for further details
contact: Prof Vincent Janik


 

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  • CBD Seminar: Conflicts between biodiversity conservation and human livelihoods: an interdisciplinary approach
    speaker: Nils Bunnfield (Stirling University )

    building: Dyers Brae
    room: Seminar Room
    see also: additional details
    host/contact: ecg5@st-andrews.ac.uk

    Conflicts between human livelihoods and biodiversity conservation are increasing in scale and intensity and have been shown to be damaging for both biodiversity and humans. Managing a specific natural resource often results in conflict between those stakeholders focussing on improving livelihoods and food security and those focussed on biodiversity conversation. Uncertainty, for example from climate change, decreases food security, puts further pressure on biodiversity and exacerbates conflicts. I will present first results towards developing a novel model that integrates game theory and social-ecological modelling to develop new approaches to manage conservation conflicts. The project has importance for society at large because ecosystems and their services are central to human wellbeing and unlocking these conflicts will provide great potential for a more sustainable future.


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  • CBD Seminar: How did the butterfly get its colours? The genetic control of colour and pattern diversity in Heliconius butterflies
    speaker: Nicola Nadeau (The University of Sheffield)

    building: Dyers Brae
    room: Seminar Room
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    host/contact: ecg5@st-andrews.ac.uk

    Butterfly wing patterns are a striking example of biological diversity.The neotropical Heliconius butterflies in particular have extensive within and between species diversity in their wing colour patterns. Some of this diversity is due to variation at the gene cortex, which has repeatedly been targeted by natural selection, both to produce mimetic colour pattern resemblances within Heliconius and remarkably to shift camouflage in the peppered moth. I will also talk about ongoing work in my lab to identify genes controlling iridescent structural colour.


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  • CBD Seminar: TBA
    speaker: Amanda Bretman (University of Leeds )

    building: Dyers Brae
    room: Seminar Room
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    host/contact: ecg5@st-andrews.ac.uk

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  • SOI seminar: Skilful predictions of the winter North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)
    speaker: Dr Nick Dunstone (Met Office)

    building: Bute
    room: Lecture theatre D
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    host/contact: Prof Chris Todd

    The winter North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is the primary mode of atmospheric variability in the North Atlantic sector. It has a profound impact on surface conditions over the North Atlantic ocean and temperature & precipitation over Europe and North America. The NAO exhibits pronounced interannual variability, particularly in the last decade, with strong positive NAO leading to mild & stormy European winters (e.g. 2011/12, 2013/14) and strong negative NAO winters giving cold & dry winters (e.g. 2009/10, 2010/11). Until recently seasonal forecasting systems have had no significant skill in predicting the winter NAO, leading many to assume that the NAO was largely a chaotic mode of atmospheric variability and inherently unpredictable. Here I will outline our recent work using the Met Office high-resolution climate models to show that the NAO is indeed predictable both one month ahead of winter and that significant skill still remains one year ahead. I will  examine the drivers of predictability on these two timescales and show that the discovery of NAO predictability is at odds with the skill of the model predicting itself. This surprising result indicates that the real-world is in fact far more predictable than we previously thought and it is likely that even the latest high-resolution climate models are unable to realistically represent the physical processes and feedbacks operating in the real world, resulting in too little signal and/or too much noise. Finally, I show how these new skilful NAO predictions are beginning to be used to aid decision making in government and industry.


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  • TBC
    speaker: Petra Neveceralova (Charles University, Prague)

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    host/contact: elc6@st-andrews.ac.uk

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Events
Biology, BSRC

  • 25-02-2017 at 19-00 - Dance, Social
    St Andrews BioBall 2017 - Dinner and Ceilidh Dance
    BioSoc
    Hotel du Vin, 40 The Scores, St Andrews

    25-02-2017 at 19-00 - Dance, Social
    St Andrews BioBall 2017 - Dinner and Ceilidh Dance

    BioSoc
    Hotel du Vin, 40 The Scores, St Andrews

    Join BioSoc for BIOBALL 2017 - the School of Biology dinner/dance event of the year. This will be a beautiful event at Hotel du Vin on The Scores on Saturday 25 February 2017. Tickets are subsidised by the School of Biology and BioSoc and include a three course meal with complimentary wine followed by a ceilidh dance by one of the best bands in town. You can come for either the dinner and the dance (recommended!), or later on for the dance only.

    <p>Last remaining tickets are being sold online until Friday 10 February at 9am. <a href="https://www.tilt.com/tilts/school-of-biology-bioball-dinner-dance-ticket">Ceilidh (dance ticket only) &pound;11</a>; <a href="https://www.tilt.com/tilts/st-andrews-bioball-ceilidh-dance-ticket-ps11">dinner and dance ticket &pound;38</a>. Please visit the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/694647004037200/">Facebook event page</a>&nbsp;for more information.&nbsp;</p>

    further details

    prebooking: Yes
    audience: All staff and students
    contact: University of St Andrews BioSoc




  • 28-02-2017 at 13-00 - Meeting
    The future of the University: what mid-career academics should tell the Principal!
    RSE Young Academy of Scotland Members with the Principal
    TBA upon registration

    28-02-2017 at 13-00 - Meeting
    The future of the University: what mid-career academics should tell the Principal!

    RSE Young Academy of Scotland Members with the Principal
    TBA upon registration

    The St Andrews-based members of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland are hosting a pair of lunch-time meetings to discuss how mid-career academics see the key issues and challenges faced by the University in the coming years. Will you still be here in 10 years? Do you care about the sort of academic environment you will be working in? What do you think are the main challenges facing universities in general, and St Andrews in particular? And how should we respond to them? The Principal will join us for this second meeting to give her perspective on the issues we raised following the meeting on 14 February, and to take part in an open and energetic conversation. All discussions will be under Chatham House rules, i.e. not attributable to specific individuals.

    <p>Lunch will be provided at both events. If you are interested in participating, please RSVP to Tracey Gloster via&nbsp;<a href="mailto:tmg@st-andrews.ac.uk">tmg@st-andrews.ac.uk</a>&nbsp;by 8 February, stating which meeting(s) you would like to attend, and any dietary requirements.</p>

    further details

    prebooking: Yes
    audience: Staff
    contact: Tracey Gloster




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