Search

News & Events

Seminars

Date:             Wednesday, 14.10.2015, 13:00-14:00
Venue:          LT1 Molecular Biology Building, Upper Campus
Speaker:       Dr Anna Bastian
Title:              "The vocal behaviour of animals - Insights into the evolution of acoustic communication gained from the study of bats "

Abstract:
The study of mammalian vocal behaviour provides powerful insights into the evolution of acoustic communication systems in animals and language in humans. The first part of this talk discusses some similarities between animal acoustic communication and language with the focus on emotional communication in mammals, especially bats. Since bats are a highly vocal group evolutionarily remote from primates, they are of particular interest for a comparative approach to acoustic communication of emotional states. Communication of emotions is crucial for organizing all aspects of social life and are an integral part of decision making mechanisms. The “pre-human origin hypothesis of affective prosody” looks at universal principles ruling the encoding and decoding of emotions in acoustic communication from animals to humans. The second part introduces some unique adaptions of acoustic communication systems in bats, presenting the “hot-off-the-press”-results of David Jacobs’ research group. We employed a set of behavioural experiments to investigate if and how bats use echolocation for communication. As echolocation signals are primarily shaped to function in orientation and foraging, a functional extension into the domain of communication provides an excellent opportunity to study the evolution of communication systems incorporating adaptations of the senders encoding mechanisms, the signal structure and the receivers decoding abilities


Date:             Tuesday, 22.09.2015, 13:00-14:00
Venue:          LT1 Molecular Biology Building, Upper Campus
Speaker:       Dr Alan Clark
Title:              "Socially Facilitated Breeding Behaviour in Colonial Birds"

Abstract:
Coloniality is rare in the animal kingdom. An exception to this pattern is found in seabirds, where 95% of seabird species are colonial. Coloniality gives rise to unique and complex behavioral patterns, including breeding behavior. Often behaviors in colonial species are socially facilitated, that is, the behavior of nearby conspecifics impacts the behavior of their neighbors. Professor Clark explores the role of vocalizations in socially facilitated breeding behavior of several colonial bird species, including Penguins, Flamingos, and Ibises. A better understanding of socially facilitated breeding behaviors can play a key role in the success of management programmes for colonial species of conservation concern.


Date:              Wednesday, 09.09.2015, 13:00-14:00
Venue:          LT1 Molecular Biology Building, Upper Campus
Speaker:       Dr Anna Bastian
Title:               "The vocal behaviour of mammals -Insights into the evolution of acoustic communication gained from the study of bats"

Abstract:
The study of mammalian vocal behaviour provides powerful insights into the evolution of acoustic communication systems in animals and language in humans.
The first part of this talk discusses some similarities between animal acoustic communication and language with the focus on emotional communication in mammals, especially bats. Since bats are a highly vocal group evolutionarily remote from primates, they are of particular interest for a comparative approach to acoustic communication of emotional states. Communication of emotions is crucial for organizing all aspects of social life and are an integral part of decision making mechanisms. The “pre-human origin hypothesis of affective prosody” looks at universal principles ruling the encoding and decoding of emotions in acoustic communication from animals to man.
The second part introduces some unique adaptations of acoustic communication systems in bats, presenting the “hot-off-the-press”-results of David Jacobs’ research group. We employed a set of behavioural experiments to investigate if and how bats use echolocation for communication. As echolocation signals are primarily shaped to function in orientation and foraging, a functional extension into the domain.


Date:              Wednesday, 26.08.2015, 13:00-14:00
Venue:          LT1 Molecular Biology Building, Upper Campus
Speaker:       Abraham Dabengwa (PhD candidate)
Title:               "Exploring environmental change as a means of understanding ecosystem response(s) to disturbance and climate"
Abstract:
Environmental change allows us to observe the complex behaviour of ecological systems to variable and interacting disturbance drivers. The responses are either gradual or abrupt and this often gives us insights into the resilience of ecosystems. The last 2000 years have been characterised by changes in global environments due to climatic and anthropogenic forcing occurring at different spatial and temporal scales. Long term data sets provide unique time series data which are ideal observation windows of changes in ecosystem state. I will be using palaeoecological examples from my current PhD study in KwaZulu-Natal to explore regime shifts, thresholds responses, and interacting drivers. The theoretical basis for the work is based on Williams et al., 2011, Journal of Ecology 99, 664-677.