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+55 84 32153221

C.P. 115, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte, Lagoa Nova, Natal, RN 59078-970



© 2015 All rights reserved   LaB-UFRN

Acoustic Ecology of Humpback Whales in the Abrolhos Bank, Brazil . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


The vocal behavior of humpback whales from the population around the Abrolhos National Marine Park off Brazil was monitored through application of passive acoustic technology. Male vocal bahavior is described to better undestand why males sing such complex songs. This project approach is to address this question about the function of the male song by asking how, when, where and who sings.


This project investigates how male singers change the acoustic range of their vocal display by changing their posture in the water column, revealing how site specific propagation scenarios may drive the evolution of behavioral plasticity to optimize communication. Temporal changes in singing activity can reveal biological rithms that are related to internal and/or external oscillators or as result of environmental factors. The presence of biological rithms and other temporal changes in the behavior of singers around the archipelago are investigated to explain when males sing. The spatial distribution of vocally active individuals can also reveal the function of calling and what environmental factors afffect singing males. The location of groups of vocal and non-vocal individuals are used to investigate where singing occurs and the likely explanations for the observed patterns. 


Crew: Renata Sousa-Lima, Deborah Fernandes, Cristiane Martins, Paula Hatum, Laura Honda, Thamires Casagrande, Daiane Vanine, Rafael Carneiro & Christopher Clark

Funding: Instituto Baleia Jubarte, The Canon National Parks Scholars Program, Cornell Graduate Program, CAPES, CNPq


Effects of Boats on Cetaceans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  


For cetaceans that are acoustic specialists, excessive interactions and noise from boats can disturb important aspects of their livelihoods, especially their communication: autocommunication for feeding and navigation, sexual and contact calls that enable individuals to meet and mate; feeding calls that facilitate food resource utilization; and mother and calf calls that enable maintenance of proximity. Given this situation, the potential of noise from whale/dolphin-watching boats to impair survival, reproduction, and population growth raises concerns for the conservation of cetacean populations. While noise pollution demands attention, customers of the growing cetacean watching industry demand longer and closer encounters with animals.


Ideally, cetacean-watching should be conducted at a sustainable level, maximizing the potential returns while minimizing the impacts on the target species. Excessive disturbance and exposure to noise from boats may result in abandonment of critical areas, ultimately leading to a collapse of the local touristic operation. Thus, the overall objective of this project is to contribute to our understanding on the potential impacts of boat traffic on cetacean behavior, thereby exploring the conflict between anthropogenic presence and resulting noise and animal acoustic communication.


Crew: Renata Sousa-Lima, Deborah Fernandes, Cristiane Martins, Paula Hatum, Laura Honda, Thamires Casagrande, Daiane Vanine, Rafael Carneiro & Christopher Clark

Funding: Fundação O Boticário de Proteção à Natureza, Instituto Baleia Jubarte, The Canon National Parks Scholars Program, Cornell Graduate Program, CAPES, CNPq

Humpback Whale Song Evolution  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


The humpback whale vocal display changes through time and these progressive changes in the acoustic activity of the Brazilian population are described and compared to other areas in the globe. 


Crew: Renata Sousa-Lima, James Darling, Paula Hatum, Marcos Brito, Danielle Cholewiak, Salvatore Cerchio, Márcia Engel & Christopher Clark

Funding: Fundação O Boticário de Proteção à Natureza, Instituto Baleia Jubarte, The Canon National Parks Scholars Program, Cornell Graduate Program, CAPES, CNPq

Acoustic Ecology of Maned Wolves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


The maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus Illiger 1815) is the biggest canid in South America and it is considered a “near threatened” species by IUCN. Because of its nocturnal, territorial and solitary habits, there are still many understudied aspects of their behavior in natural environments, including acoustic communication. Our project focuses on their long-distance call (the “roar-bark”) which, according to literature, functions for spacing maintenance between individuals and/or communication between members of the reproductive pair inside the territory. This project involved a comparison of different methods for detecting maned wolves’ long distance calls (roar-barks) in recordings made in natural environment and aimed to determine the nocturnal temporal pattern of emitting such vocalizations and the influence of meteorological variables in this behavior. Additionally, it aimed to evaluate whether roar-barks elicit vocal responses from other maned wolves. This study was the first to test the Passive Acoustic Monitoring to identify the presence of these animals in the wild, which may prove to be an important tool to assist in the conservation of this species. 


Crew: Luciana Rocha, Luane Ferreira, Bruna Paula, Flávio Rodrigues, Victor Sábato, Marina Duarte, Danielly Duarte, Rafael Frigo & Renata Sousa-Lima

Funding: CNPq, UFRN Psychobiology Graduate Program, FAPEMIG, IDEA Wild

Acoustic Communication in Ants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Ant acoustic signals are produced by stridulation but very little information exists about their context and function. Here we try to characterize the acoustic signals produced by Neoponera ants and elucidate the social contexts in which they are made.


Crew: Jeniffer Medeiros, Arrílton Araújo & Renata Sousa-Lima

Funding: CAPES, UFRN Psychobiology Graduate Program, FAPESB

Human Effects on Terrestrial Soundscapes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 


Through application of passive acoustic technology, terretrial landscapes can be characterized and monitored. Anthropogenic noise (anthropophony) resulting from human activities is known to cause negative impacts on animal communication and wellbeing. Therefore, investigating the change in the soundscape in areas with and without exposure to anthropophony such as open-cast mining or winfarms can help us undersrtand the impact of noise in wildlife communication systems and community dynamics. The impact of such noise on biophony (biological sounds) is investigated by characterizing and comparing the soundscapes of  sites within the same biome using acoustic complexity indexes to measure how much the soundscape is altered.


Crew: Marina Duarte, Nadia Pieretti, Renata Sousa-Lima, Robert Young, Almo Farina, Marina Scarpelli, Marcos Rodrigues, Eliziane Oliveira, Rafael Carneiro, Lara Lopes, Jorge Luiz Dantas

Funding: FAPEMIG, Vale S.A.

Acoustic Niche Partitioning in Marine Soundscapes  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Soundscape of marine environments are investigated using different passive acoustics platforms to characterize how the acoustic space is partitioned among vertebrates and anthropogenic noise.


Crew: Susan Parks, Nathan Merchant, Karina Groch, Paulo Flores, Julia Dombroski, Renata Sousa-Lima & Christopher Clark

Funding: U.S. Office of Naval Research, UFRN Graduate Program of Psychobiology, CNPq, Rufford Foundation, Cetacean Society International, Polícia Militar Ambiental, Projeto Tamar

Southern Right Whale Acoustic Communication  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Aiming to gather information concerning southern right whale (Eubalaena australis) mother-calf pairs’ vocalizations, a linear array of acoustic sensors were deployed at a Protected Area off an important calving area for the species at Santa Catarina, Brazil. Manual inspection of spectrograms, power-spectra and oscillograms revealed different types of calls including: upcalls, downcalls and modulated calls. Our results contribute to fulfil the current deficiency in reference information concerning right whales’ vocal behaviour in Brazil and about sound production of mother-calf pairs in calving areas.


Crew: Julia Dombroski, Susan Parks, Karina Grock, Paulo André Flores & Renata Sousa-Lima

Funding: CAPES, UFRN Psychobiology Graduate Program, U.S. Office of Naval Research, Rufford Foundation, Cetacean Society International, Polícia Militar Ambiental, Porjeto Tamar

Behavioral Proxies of Consciousness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


This conceptual work appraises the expression of the biological phenomenon of consciousness releaved by behavioural measurements in species of vertebrates and invertebrates. Consciousness, as a biological phenomenon, consists of all states of feeling, sensation or awareness. There is considerable discussion about the bases of neural structures for consciousness in different taxa. Specialized behaviour, sophisticated actions of communication, metacognition, social interaction, spatial orientation, self awareness and recognition, use of mental maps for navigation and spatial memory, are some examples of measurable bahavioral traits that can be considered proxies for consciousness. Some of these traits are currently being investigated in Callithrix jacchus, Dinoponera quadriceps and Danio rerio.


Crew: Daniel Polari, Lara Lopes, Marise Souza, Pedro Alves, Arrílton Araújo, Ana Carolina Luchiari & Renata Sousa-Lima

Funding: CAPES, UFRN Psychobiology Graduate Program

Acoustic Communication Complexity & Sociality in Mammals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


According to the ‘social intelligence hypothesis’, species with complex social interactions have more sophisticated communication systems. It is likely that the mammal vocal communication follows this rule. The objectives of the current studies are to investigate the vocal repertoire of several taxa to correlate vocal complexity with level of sociability of mustelids, carnivores and caviomorpha to verify whether or not the results support the ‘social intelligence hypothesis’.


Crew: Victor Sábato, Flávio Rodrigues, Caroline Leuchtenberger, Bruna Paula, Stella Lima, Selene Nogueira & Renata Sousa-Lima

Funding: CNPq, Rufford Small Grants Foundation, Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund & IDEA Wild

Non-Invasive Monitoring of Wild Manatee Populations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Direct observation of wild manatees (Trichechus spp) is almost impossible due to low water visibility and their cryptic behavior. Alternative non-invasive methods are needed to monitor populations of these endangered species. Since manatees are known to emit sounds passive acoustic monitoring and active sonar potentially allows for estimation of population size and structure.


Crew: Katherine Choi Lima, Ana Carolina Meireles, Vera da Silva, Rodney Rountree & Renata Sousa-Lima

Funding: Grupo O Boticário de Proteção a Natureza, INPA, Sociedade Civil Mamirauá, Aquasis

Acoustic Communication in Chelonians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Until recently, aquatic and marine turtles were thought to be communicating only through visual and olfactory cues. Ours and other recent studies show acoustic communication to be important in the exchange of information by turtles. The purpose of our study was to document the vocalizations of turtles in captivity and in nature and relate them to the social contexts in which they were made.


Crew: Camila Ferrara, Richard Vogt & Renata Sousa-Lima

Funding: CAPES, UFRN Psychobiology Graduate Program, FAPESB

Neoponera villosa - Jeniffer Medeiros
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Behavioral Ecology of Whales and Dolphins  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Marine mammals have evolved in such environment that some of the stablished general rules for mamal behavior do not apply. We use tradicional visual survey techniques and passive acoustics to better undestand the natural history of these captivating animals. 


Crew: Maria Isabel Gonçalves, Julio Baumgarten, Daniel Danilewicz, Christiane Del Vechio, Renata Sousa-Lima & Christopher Clark

Funding: Cetacean Society Internacional