Vocal repertoire of Norwegian killer whales (Orcinus orca) 

Cetaceans are extremely vocal animals, with high cognitive skills, providing striking parallels in social complexity and behavioural richness to some human societies. Outside of humans, cetaceans are one of a select number of taxa that are capable of vocal production learning, meaning that they can diversify their vocal repertoire across their lifetime based on their individual social experiences, making them an ideal study system for investigating questions regarding the evolution of complex communication, including vocal learning, referential labelling, syntax comprehension, and joint action. Exploring a species’ vocal repertoire is an important step towards investigating the use of cues in animal communication – their functionality, variability and social relevance. The aim of this project is to define the vocal repertoire of free-ranging killer whales inhabiting the Norwegian coast. The student will be responsible for 1) conducting a literature search and summarising killer whales call types that have already been described, 2) annotating and segmenting killer whale calls from recordings collected in Norway, 3) creating a call catalogue for the population, 4) classifying Norwegian killer whales call types using machine learning methods. 
 
We are looking for a highly motivated student with a strong interest in bioacoustics and good R coding skills. Prior experience with acoustic analysis software is preferred, but not necessary.

Keywords: bioacoustics, vocal repertoire, killer whales, cetaceans, acoustic analyses, vocal communication 

Contact

If you are interested in applying for this position, please send a CV and short cover letter to Kaja Wierucka (kaja.wierucka (at) uzh.ch), Jörg Rychen (jrychen (at) ini.ethz.ch) and Richard Hahnloser (rich (at) ini.ethz.ch). 

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