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bio 551 take home

Submitted by kruzzoli on Fri, 12/14/2018 - 13:31

They sampled sound pressure levels directly from recording for one second before the randomly selected song and looked at the dB when the song was present and when it was not present. They looked at the difference in pressure to assess whether the noise had an effect on song structure. To look at the relationship between vegetation and structure on song structure,  they calculated the proportion of area around the males that contained structures of vegetation. The structure variables contain the percent of vegetation and reflective surfaces of concentric circles extending from the location of the bird.

They found that noise levels varied considerably with the proportion of urban and vegetative structure, but noise levels were not correlated with urban structure. They found that males from group one produced significantly higher maximum frequencies, broader bandwidths, and significantly slower trill rates than the group 2 males. Minimum frequency and bandwidth were the only traits that showed group specific responses to structure and noise. In males from both groups, peak frequency decreased, and the time between songs increased as urban structure increased. In general, vocal performance declined across all males with increasing noise and increasing urban structure. Peak frequency decreased with increasing urban structure; males put more energy into low frequency songs so it is more expensive to create low frequencies. This shows that unless it is beneficial to produce low frequency songs, like in the case of increased urban structure, males will produce higher frequencies because it requires less energy.


bio 551 take home

Submitted by kruzzoli on Fri, 12/14/2018 - 13:07

Males sing with different trill rates during the morning and during the day. When unpaired during the afternoon, they sing at a much higher rate than in the early mornings when they are paired and calling out to other males. This study was interested in the effects of noise and structure on the male song used to broadcast signals to other females, so only recordings from the day were used and none from the early dawn when they are calling to other males. They took recordings between 7 am and noon in April and May of 2011 and 2012 from the same area in Michigan. Taking recordings from the same time of day and the same season ensures consistency in the behavior of bird calls because calls can change seasonally depending on breeding or taking care of young or finding new habitat. Using the same location also ensure population similarities and that the differences found are not based on different environments or population differences. The sites of recordings varied from large rural areas with little noise and only a few man made structures to to sites that were highly urbanized and contained a lot of noise and a high proportion of sound reflecting surfaces and structures. One to three males were recorded from each site and each site was separated by at least .5 m to ensure there was not overlap and there was a reduced chance that the same male was recorded more than once. During song analysis, the birds were assigned random numbers so that they were unaware of the location of the bird to avoid bias on analysis.

bio 551 take home

Submitted by kruzzoli on Fri, 12/14/2018 - 12:36

Past studies show that species tend to increase their maximum frequency of signals as noise increases in an attempt to minimize the amount of their noise that would be masked by the increase in noise. This however, is contradicted by the idea that urban structure would select for lower frequency signals because lower frequencies have a better ability to bend around structures and are less prone to reverberation and they are less likely to develop echoes.

    In this, they focused on male chipper sparrows when they broadcast songs to females specifically. They were curious as to whether chipper sparrows with different song variants would adjust their songs differently to an increase in both noise and structure, whether noise and structure affected different features of song, and if vocal performance was affected by noise and structure. They looked at species in urban environments to explore how individuals in the same population responded to noise and structure, they wanted to know if they would respond in a similar way. They found that male sparrows fell into two different categories. The second group had higher trill rates, lower maximum frequency, narrower bandwidths, and higher trill rates than the first group. They predicted that the first group of sparrows would increase their minimum frequency in the presence of more noise in order to minimize the masking and decrease their maximum frequency in the presence of increased structure to maximize reverberation. They did not expect any change in temporal traits. They expected group two males that had higher trill rates to decrease their trill rate with increasing structure but they did not expect any changes in response to noise. This is because they were already not susceptible to noise masking from the environment.


bio 551 take home

Submitted by kruzzoli on Fri, 12/14/2018 - 12:04

This paper focused on the effects of anthropogenic noise, urban structure, and vegetation on the song structure of a historically open habitated bird.  They studied chipping sparrows, which evolved in an open grassland habitat. Species that evolve in closed environments, such as forests, tend to produce shorter and more tonal signals than those is open habitats, such as grasslands. This is because of attenuation and reverberation distorting sound and masking certain pitches and frequencies. Attenuation means that a sound will be fainter the further away from the source it becomes. Higher frequencies show a more excess attenuation than lower frequencies because they are more likely to be absorbed by the environment and they are more scattered since they are a higher energy, so they are more likely to be distorted in their path in the presence of a closed habitat. Degradation also plays a role in sound production as well and is more important in habitats with a lot of cover. Reflection and echoes make it difficult to differentiate different vocal elements.

    This study focused on song sparrows in the closed habitat of an urban environment. Urbanization has a lot of anthropogenic noise, which is  noise that has both a high amplitude and low frequency. This noise masks a lot of animal sounds and reduces the space that animals have to communicate. Built structures in urban areas are also highly reflective, sounds that reflect off of buildings in urban environments hold more energy than when they are reflected off of structures in forests because urban structures tend to be very smooth and flat in comparison so there is less sound absorption. Past studies show that



Submitted by kruzzoli on Thu, 12/13/2018 - 20:19

Our group overall learned a lot about how be a better teammate and how to work together as a cohesive unit with our final project. We planned multiple meet ups throughout the week to work on the project which was something we did not do for the proposal. Because of the extra effort put into the project by everyone in the group, we had a much easier time collecting data, writing the report and creating a very nice poster. We grew a lot as a team from the proposal to the project and because of this I can now see myself being better at group work in the future. I already learned that I need to spend more energy when it comes to group work and I know how important it is to communicate, so I don’t think this will be something I struggle with in the future as much. Our final project was also really cool and being able to look at microscopic images of the webs was super interesting. I learned a lot about how to create a research plan and then how to carry it out, so the final project taught me a lot about myself academically.  

Finally, the reflection was a good way for me to reflect on everything this class has taught me this semester and allowed me to reconsider my feelings as a student in this class. I have not had to write a reflection since high school so it was definitely a reminder on how to evaluate the new skills sets that I have gained this semester. It was a rather quick and easy assignment but it allowed me to recollect my thoughts and really focus on the improvements I’ve made this semester which is something I probably would not have done if I did not write this reflection.



Submitted by kruzzoli on Thu, 12/13/2018 - 20:09

The first assignment of this semester was definitely unique and I think a good demonstration of how important  a well detailed and structured methods section really is. Creating a figure was important in itself because this is something needed for scientific writing and papers. I also wrote what I thought was a super detailed methods however the recreation of my image showed that I did have some errors and some areas that I could have been more clear on. I realized that all details, even if you think it might be common knowledge or common sense, need to be included and specified if you want a second person to be able to recreate what you did. This will help my future research and scientific papers because I am aware of how careful my word selection has to be and I know the importance of word choice and detail choice. I had two research projects in other classes this semester that I feel I wrote better than I would have before this assignment because I did my best to include all important details as well as getting rid of details that are unnecessary.

    The proposal project tested my abilities to work as a member of a group and at first posed a challenge between my group members and myself. We struggled at first to work together in order to complete the written sections and background research. Eventually we finished out proposal however it was not to the best of our abilities because we had failed to be a cohesive unit all working on the same project. We were able to turn this around come time for the final project.



Submitted by kruzzoli on Thu, 12/13/2018 - 19:23

I found one of the better ways to use write these prompts for me was to use them as a studying tool for my other classes. I would rewrite notes and define concepts or write a paragraph about a topic from one of my other classes. This allowed me to study and practice writing at the same time and I find it really helped me learn the material for the other classes.


    The perfect paragraphs had a similar purpose to me as the prompts did. They were another reminder to keep up with the class and served as a good reminder for how important editing and proofreading is. Often I get too lazy to reread things I’ve written so I just leave it as is. Having to read through a previously written paragraph and turn it into something “perfect” reminded me how much improvements can be made from an original draft. Updating a prompt to turn into a perfect paragraph bettered my editing skills because I learned to focus on sentence structure as well as content. The comments also allowed me to look through other classmates writing to get a perspective on well written prompts and also allowed me to better my own work by looking at what other students thought of my writing.



Submitted by kruzzoli on Thu, 12/13/2018 - 17:53

I have learned a significant amount about myself as both a student and as a writer this semester in this class. I struggled a bit with the structure of the class in the fact that we only it had it once a week so I found it was easy to procrastinate the work until last minute because this class had fewer deadlines than my other classes that met 2 or 3 times a week. Towards the end of the semester I did become better at working on this class throughout the week instead of just on Wednesday or Thursday. This was in large part because of the project and working in a group, so leaving assignments until last minute was not optimal since everyone in the group had to contribute and our project was reliant on all of us. Because of this I learned how to better divi my time and organize my time well.

    The weekly prompts helped to keep me on track with this class because they served as a reminder to be thinking about the class and writing prompts for all my other classes. At the beginning of the semester I struggled with organizing my prompts in a way that I would do one a day or spread them out through the week. Sometimes I found I would just post multiple on three days of the week instead of spreading them out. As the semester progressed and I began to develop a more solid schedule, I found it was easier to do the prompts in a timely manner.  


reflection bio 551

Submitted by kruzzoli on Wed, 12/12/2018 - 15:28

As a first semester junior, Biology 551 was my first upper level course in my college career, prior to this course I only took mainly introductory level courses so this was one of the first challenges I had with taking this course. This class posed mainly challenges for me because it was also one of the first classes I took at UMass that was heavily based on teamwork and outside research projects. My previous two years were filled with lecture and exam style classes where I was not reliable for contributing to a group and most projects were small and individual. Animal communication improved my abilities to work with a group effectively and forced me to take a stronger hold on my education because I learned that I had to do a lot more outside class work in order to succeed in this class. This class improved my academic abilities, professional abilities, and sparked a stronger interest in the science of animal communication and the function of signals and interactions between animals within a species. It has also improved my abilities to think about how to carry out a research project in terms of thinking of a question and coming up with hypotheses and potential answers, and then developing a research method to effectively find an answer to the question.


ecology-climate change

Submitted by kruzzoli on Wed, 12/12/2018 - 15:22

In 2017, the city experienced a record number of days that had at least a foot of snow on the ground. From November to early April, for 132 the city had at least one foot of snow. This beat the previous record of 120 days that was set in the winter of 1968-69 (Samenow, Jason. 2017). This example does not show a pattern of increased snowfall but it is an example of above average phenomena. Despite a warming winter, on average, Caribou is seeing a minor increase in snowfall. In general, a trend can not be seen in the snow departure anomalies in Figure 7, but since the mid 1990’s, there are more years with above average snowfall than years with below average snowfall (NOAA National Centers. 2016). Since 1950, 37 years had a higher than average snowfall and only 29 had a decrease. Since 1990, 18 years had a higher than average snowfall and 9 years with less than average. (NOAA National Centers. 2016). This shows a trend towards winters with increased snowfall.



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