About Danielle

I'm the ORCAA Lab's resident "Frog Lady". As a graduate student in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society in the College of Forestry, I study the impacts of road noise on calling behavior in Pacific chorus frogs. Previously, I worked for Chris Clark on right whale communication at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, so I have some marine mammal cred. In my spare time I tend to do outside things, like mountain biking or climbing with my boyfriend. I also like to paint and draw, albeit not very well...

“Danielle,” I hear you asking, “I’ve been missing my weekly dose of the coolest bioacoustics news! What happened? Where is my fun link of the week??”

Well, bioacoustics friends, field season is what happened.

My frogs are calling and so I must follow them. They seem to have started early this year, probably due to our relatively warm weather. So I have been out placing equipment, maintaining said equipment, and recording frogs for the past two weeks now. The data is rolling in, and while I haven’t had a chance to look at it yet, so far the new field protocol has been successful.

So what does my typical day look like? Well, first let’s talk about how it’s not a “day” anymore, it’s a night. My fieldwork starts at dusk with a 30 minute visual survey, looking for frogs and egg masses. If we find any, we (my field assistants and I) weigh them and measure them. After the visual survey, we wait until 8pm rolls around and then take a directional microphone into the pond to record individual frogs. This goes along until 10pm or three frogs get recorded, whichever comes first. It’s often cold, wet, and a little tedious, but it’s always so exciting to be standing in the middle of a pond full of chorusing frogs.

But let me tell you, I am tired.

Fieldwork is great. I love having the opportunity to do it. But they never tell you how to balance fieldwork with classes and having a life outside of science and presenting at conferences and all the other things being a graduate student entails.

Even so, even with all of this on my plate, it makes me feel alive and full of enthusiasm for the science I do when I have a good day. And the good days are plentiful.

So, you want your fun link of the week? How about lots of pictures of adorable frogs, instead?

Little Pacific Chorus Frog male

Gravid Pacific Chorus Frog female

A long-toed salamander, for good measure

And if you really want to experience what frog fieldwork sounds like, go listen to this video.


Soundbites is a weekly (biweekly, occasionally) feature of the coolest, newest bioacoustics, soundscape, and acoustic research, in bite-size form. Plus other cool stuff having to do with sound.

Classification of non-song repertoire in Southeast Alaskan humpbacks:  I am only cheating a LITTLE bit with the fact that this is Michelle’s paper, but it is also very very interesting and applicable! Congrats, Michelle!

Soundscape analysis shows parrot preference for old-growth forestthese researchers used acoustic monitoring to show that seven out of nine species of parrot preferentially perch in old-growth forest instead of regenerating forest. Deforestation has long-term consequences that can’t be corrected by simply regrowing things, guys.

Fun link of the week: Holger has successfully moved to Ithaca, NY only to find himself buried in another Northeastern Snowpocalypse. So this week’s link discusses why it’s so much quieter when it snows. Hey Holger, send the Pacific Northwest some of that–I want to go snowboarding!

Soundbites is a weekly (biweekly, occasionally) feature of the coolest, newest bioacoustics, soundscape, and acoustic research, in bite-size form. Plus other cool stuff having to do with sound.

Chronic noise impacts anti-predator behavior in house sparrowsa lot of the time, bioacoustics researchers are looking at the impact of noise on communication behavior, but that’s not the only behavior that can be affected. Female house sparrows flushed more easily in chronic noise environments, but this didn’t have an impact on their reproductive success.

Traffic noise affects coloration, not calling, in European treefrogssome frogs use what’s called multimodal signaling to attract mates, where females are drawn not only by the calling but also by a visual cue, like vocal sac inflation (see my previous post). Here, it turns out that treefrogs don’t seem to be  able to change their calling structure, but they are less vibrantly colored in noisy areas. This means it’s likely that noise doesn’t just affect vocal species.

Fun link of the week: this song has been in my head all week, and it’s called WHALE, so I’m pretty sure you should go listen to it.

Soundbites is a weekly (biweekly, occasionally) feature of the coolest, newest bioacoustics, soundscape, and acoustic research, in bite-size form. Plus other cool stuff having to do with sound. 

Fish sound preference may inform migration patterns: here’s an interesting one. Water sounds are thought to be important in triggering upriver migration patterns, so these researchers played some tones and watched how fish reacted. They avoided the 100 Hz tone and were attracted to the 200 Hz tone. Then they fed this into a GIS model and think that they can replicate patterns now–they might even be able to manipulate migration behavior.

Boat presence as important as noise in disrupting foraging patterns in dolphins: these researchers used passive acoustic monitoring to listen to dolphin buzzes during foraging, and found that it was correlated more with boat presence than just noise level.

Fun link of the week: a scientific examination of whether or not a duck’s quack actually does echo (I love scientists because we do this sort of thing in our spare time).

Soundbites is a weekly (biweekly, occasionally) feature of the coolest, newest bioacoustics, soundscape, and acoustic research, in bite-size form. Plus other cool stuff having to do with sound. We’re back in the new year (after a holiday break) with all your favorite acoustics news!

Bowheads show increasing song diversity in Beaufort-Chukchi seasin perhaps one of the more hopeful papers to appear in Soundbites, these researchers report 12 separate bowhead song types found in this area, the most to date. What’s more, they attribute the greater variety to population growth!

Noise may affect signal evolution in grasshoppers: I’m loving all these papers coming out about female preference in the face of noise. Here, females of a species of grasshopper showed a change in shape of their preference function when presented with male calls in noise (as opposed to quiet). Since this signal has a sexual selection component, the noise features of a landscape may in part drive signal modification.

Fun link of the week: I give you five minutes of the cutest frog in the world. Listen to its little peeps. It sounds so grumpy. (Seriously, this will cheer you up. It’s great).

Soundbites is a weekly (biweekly, occasionally) feature of the coolest, newest bioacoustics, soundscape, and acoustic research, in bite-size form. Plus other cool stuff having to do with sound. Sorry I missed last week. End of term caught up with me. 

Female katydids who don’t vocalize are more at risk of predation than vocalizing males: it’s been assumed for a long time that signaling to attract a mate also attracts predators (it’s certainly true in frogs). This study questions that. The authors found that flying female katydids were caught by bat predators far more often than still vocalizing males.

Shipping noise causes stress and therefore impacts immune response in lobsters: another tale for the “animals we don’t think are affected by anthropogenic noise but actually are” file. Lobsters showed decreased immune response when they were exposed to high levels of shipping noise, which has implications for the fishing industry and the health of lobster stocks.

Fun link of the week: those who have been following this blog for a little while know that I’m a big fan of Lord of the Rings and of movie sound design. Well, today marks the release of the last Hobbit Film, The Battle of the Five Armies. In honor of that, the video in this link’s week walks you through the sound design of the films.

Soundbites is a weekly (biweekly, occasionally) feature of the coolest, newest bioacoustics, soundscape, and acoustic research, in bite-size form. Plus other cool stuff having to do with sound. Can you believe it’s already December? 

Okay, so, the holiday season is upon us, and I thought I would do something a little different (mostly because end-of-term has meant I am fed up with reading papers and would rather look at holiday stuff). Today I present to you: a holiday gift guide for your favorite bioacoustician.

Species of interest cookie cutters: who doesn’t love holiday cookies? Better yet, let’s make holiday cookies in the shapes of bioacoustically relevant species! You’ve got your suite of marine mammals: seals, dolphins, and whales. Let’s throw in a bat for good measure. And of course, we can’t forget about my frogs! And let’s put a penguin in there for Michelle.

Really nice noise-canceling headphones: because we listen to a lot of stuff.

Xtratuf boots: land or sea, it doesn’t matter–a good pair of waterproof boots are necessary for any field season, anywhere.

Acoustics-themed art: how about a print of a waveform of something important to your bioacoustician of choice (like frog calls)? No? Well, you can always get a spectrogram poster instead.

But really, I think all the grad students in ORCAA can all relate to the following comic:


(“Piled Higher and Deeper” by Jorge Jam, www.phdcomics.com)

Happy holidays!

Soundbites is a weekly (biweekly, occasionally) feature of the coolest, newest bioacoustics, soundscape, and acoustic research, in bite-size form. Plus other cool stuff having to do with sound.

Bill morphology shifts along with fundamental frequency in urban birdswe talk a lot in ORCAA about the way animals change their vocalization in response to outside pressure, but there are physiological constraints on the changes that can be made (for example, there’s no way I can sing bass, although I can get to tenor if I warm up). Birds in urban, disturbed areas had longer, narrower bills, which might help them get food at feeders, but actually makes it harder for them to vocalize at the higher frequencies that are more advantageous in noisy areas.

40-million-year-old protowhale was sensitive to low frequency soundI’m a little bit of a paleo-nerd, so this was pretty cool to see. They looked at CT scans of the inner ear structures of this fossil, Zygorhiza kochii, and compared it to current mysticetes, and found that they were similar, indicating Zygorhiza was probably also sensitive to low-frequency sound the way our current baleen whales are. This implies that the order developed with a sensitivity to low-frequency and toothed whales’ high-frequency sensitivity came later.

Baird’s beaked whales are affected by sonarbeaked whales are some of the most mysterious ocean-dwellers, and we know little about their life history, behavior, or response to noise. Using acoustic tags, these researchers found that a Baird’s beaked whale displayed unusual diving behavior after being exposed to sonar.

Fun link of the weekI’m taking next week off because it’s the day before Thanksgiving here, and I’ll be traveling and then spending four straight days eating my family’s amazing cooking. So this week I give you a video about turkey vocalizations! Bonus: if you have energy, a paper cup, some string, and a paperclip after gorging yourselves on turkey, you can make a simple turkey-ish call.

Soundbites is a weekly (biweekly, occasionally) feature of the coolest, newest bioacoustics, soundscape, and acoustic research, in bite-size form. Plus other cool stuff having to do with sound. Lots of birds this week, it turns out!

Humans and hermit thrushes show convergent “song cultures”this is a cool one, and a little complicated. Apparently people have long debated the human preference for simple integer harmonics in our music–these are what generate our scales, both Western and non-Western. It turns out that hermit thrushes also prefer simple integer harmonics, and it’s actively selected for. While this isn’t prevalent among all birdsong, it’s interesting to see that there’s a sort of convergent evolution of this “song culture”!

Birds are impacted by road noise on their autumnal migration routesa lot of work has been done on birds in springtime (since that’s when mating tends to happen), but these researchers found that birds also prefer quieter areas on their autumnal migration route too. Unless they’re insectivores, in which case they didn’t care.

Fun link of the week is courtesy of Holger again, who is finding the best stuff on the interwebs. Did you know that the European Space Agency just landed a spacecraft on a comet?!? SO COOL! Here’s another thing I didn’t know: comets sing!! Follow the link and you can hear a comet singing!

Before I went to ASA last week, I had this grand idea that I would do a sort of journal-blog thing, where I’d periodically write little snippets about what was going on and how I was feeling. I started off really well, too, but all of it basically went out the window when Holger came to pick me up Sunday morning.

Let me preface this post by saying that most of the other members of ORCAA have been to a big conference before, including this one last year. This was my first—I had given poster presentations at small symposia, but nothing like this. It was also my first proper presentation.

The first thing you have to realize about ASA is that it’s the Acoustical Society of America. This means that any field that has anything to do with acoustics is invited. Biomedical acoustics, architectural acoustics, musical acoustics…these are just a few of the technical committees represented at this conference. It’s overwhelming. Mostly I hung around with the Animal Bioacoustics crew, which of course makes sense—this is most of what our lab does. I met tons of amazing people: other students, post-docs, researchers, professors. I even reconnected with several people from my old lab, the Cornell Bioacoustics Research Program.

My talk was on Monday, in the first session. I honestly don’t remember giving it, except for the point when my slides skipped too far ahead too quickly and when Niki dropped her cup and made me laugh. I was told it went well, though. I do remember answering questions, and feeling like I was able to respond to whatever was thrown at me without embarrassing myself. I even worked in a great response involving natural selection.

The nice thing about having your talk in the first session on the first day is that you have the rest of the conference to relax. The bad thing about having your talk in the first session on the first day is that people don’t always make it to see you. Many friends I made throughout the week didn’t get the chance to see me speak, and nor did one of the best connections I made during the week, Andrea Simmons. Andrea has been doing frog bioacoustics work at Brown for a long time, and I got to talk to her about both her work and mine on the last day I was there. She seemed very interested in what I’m doing, especially moving forward with the work I’m planning for my Ph.D. She also wants to come out and record our invasive bullfrogs with her array!

There were so many amazing talks given by tons of amazing researchers. I learned about horseshoe bats and their weird head movements. I learned about greater prairie chicken vocalizations. I even learned about frog-biting midges that are attracted to their prey through mating calls! And oh, the things people are doing with marine mammals! Marine mammal researchers get the coolest toys, I swear. Arrays and tags and three-dimensional plots of dives…so cool!

The entire experience was overwhelming, intense, and immensely gratifying. I felt humbled to be a part of such an amazing group of researchers, and proud and grateful to be welcomed among them. You only get one first big conference, and I like to think I nailed this one.

I’ve made a Storify of my tweets and others from the conference that you can see here. There was a budding and tight-knit social media presence at the meeting this year, which was great to see; a lot of the friends I made were made through Twitter! Other awesome ASA Storify collections can be found here by Ben Taft, and here by Will Slaton (two of my fellow live-tweeters).