Webinar: The bioacoustics of cry babies: comparing infant cries across species to gain insight into the evolution of acoustic communication, Nicholas Jourjine (Harvard)
Acoustic communication is central to the social lives of animals, and in terrestrial vertebrates this communication often begins at birth with the cries of infants. These vocalizations are a primary means by which the very young communicate physiological needs to (and elicit care from) parents, and they are a pervasive feature of infant behavior from alligators and birds to mice and humans. While infant vocalization is extremely common among these animals, infants from different species can vary dramatically in the number and type of vocalizations they make as well as the circumstances under which they make them, suggesting that variation in these behaviors has been shaped by evolution in natural environments.
In this talk, Dr. Nicholas (Nick) Jourjine will discuss his work characterizing infant vocal behavior in a clade of North American rodents, the deer mice (genus Peromyscus), and recent attempts to identify genetic and neural causes underlying variation in this behavior between species. Deer mice are the most abundant mammal in North America, where they have diversified to occupy nearly every available ecological niche and have evolved a range of social systems. Their natural history has been documented extensively, and many species are inter-fertile, making it possible to link genetic variation to behaviors in naturalistic settings. Together, these features make deer mice an exciting system to study the evolution of acoustic communication in infant mammals.
Nicholas Jourjine is a postdoctoral research fellow in the departments of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University. He completed his PhD at the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied the molecular and neural mechanisms regulating food and water ingestion in the laboratory model Drosophila melanogaster. Since starting his postdoctoral research, he has turned his focus to bioacoustics, in particular understanding how (in terms of genetic and neural mechanism) and why (in terms of ecological context and evolutionary history) acoustic communication evolves and diversifies in natural environments. His work is supported by a fellowship from the Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund.
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Early Careers SIG Webinar Series
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