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Mark Bee



Ph.D., University of Missouri, 2001

Graduate Faculty Memberships

Ecology, Evolution and Behavior
Graduate Program in Neuroscience


In the Acoustic Communication Lab, our mission is to answer fundamental questions about how and why animals use acoustic signals to convey information to other individuals in biologically important contexts, such as social and reproductive interactions. To accomplish this mission, we integrate behavioral, bioacoustic, biophysical, psychophysical, and neurophysiological approaches to test hypotheses about the mechanisms, function, and evolution of acoustic communication systems. We also focus our investigations on frogs, because they are among the most vocal of all vertebrates. In frogs, acoustic communication plays important roles in species recognition and sexual selection. We are particularly interested in understanding the role of communication in mediating female mate choice and male-male competition, and the operation of communication in social environments that are extremely noisy and both temporally and spatially variable. Frogs offer powerful model systems for addressing these questions because (i) male frogs signal in large breeding aggregations, they use acoustic signals to defend calling sites, and they have a relatively small repertoire of stereotyped acoustic signals; (ii) female frogs choose mates based primarily on the acoustic properties of male signals; (iii) both male and female frogs are amenable to field and laboratory playback studies using real and computer-generated signals; and (iv) acoustic communication in frogs can be studied at multiple levels, from broad evolutionary patterns to the responses of single neurons. Our research asks questions at all of these multiple levels.

Selected Publications

Tanner JC, Justison, JA, Bee MA (in press) SynSing: Open-source MATLAB code for generating synthetic signals in studies of animal acoustic communication. Bioacoustics.

Pettitt BA, Bourne GR, Bee MA (in press) Females prefer the calls of better fathers in a Neotropical frog with biparental care. Behavioral Ecology.

Baugh AT, Bee MA, Gall MD (2019) The paradox of hearing at the lek: auditory sensitivity increases after breeding in female gray treefrogs (Hyla chrysoscelis). Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 205, 629–639.

Gall MD, Bee MA, Baugh AT (2019) The difference a day makes: breeding remodels hearing, hormones and behavior in female Cope's gray treefrogs (Hyla chrysoscelis). Hormones and Behavior, 108, 62-72.

Tanner JC, Bee MA (2019) Within-individual variation in sexual displays: signal or noise? Behavioral Ecology, 30, 80-91.

Pettitt BA, Bourne GR, Bee MA (2018) Predictors and benefits of microhabitat selection for offspring deposition in golden rocket frogs. Biotropica, 50, 919–928 2018.

Bee MA, Vélez A (2018) Masking release in temporally fluctuating noise depends on comodulation and overall level in Cope’s gray treefrog. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 144, 2354-2362.

Dent ML, Bee MA (2018) Principles of auditory object formation by nonhuman animals. In: Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Animals (eds. Slabbekoorn H, Dooling RJ, Popper AN, Fay RR). New York: Springer, pp. 47-82.

McGregor PK, Bee MA (2018) Where, who, and when? Key drivers of territorial responses: a comment on Christensen and Radford. Behavioral Ecology, 29, 1014.

Tumulty JP, Pašukonis A, Ringler M, Forester JD, Hödl W, Bee MA (2018) Brilliant-thighed poison frogs do not use acoustic identity information to treat territorial neighbours as dear enemies. Animal Behaviour, 141, 203-220.

Lee N, Schrode KM, Bee MA (2017) Nonlinear processing of a multicomponent communication signal by combination-sensitive neurons in the anuran inferior colliculus. Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 203, 749-772.

Tanner JC, Ward JL, Shaw RG, Bee MA (2017) Multivariate phenotypic selection on a complex sexual signal. Evolution, 71, 1742-1754.

Vélez A, Gordon NM, Bee MA (2017) The signal in noise: acoustic information use for soundscape orientation in two North American treefrogs. Behavioral Ecology, 28, 844-853.

Lee N, Ward JL, Vélez A, Micheyl C, Bee MA (2017) Frogs exploit statistical regularities in noisy acoustic scenes to solve cocktail-party-like problems. Current Biology, 27, 743-750.

Zuk M, Tanner JC, Schmidtman E, Bee MA, Balenger S (2017) Calls of recently introduced coquí frogs do not interfere with cricket phonotaxis in Hawaii. Journal of Insect Behavior, 30, 60-69.

Chuang M-F, Kam Y-C, Bee MA (2017) Territorial olive frogs display lower aggression towards neighbours than strangers based on individual vocal signatures. Animal Behaviour, 123, 217-228.

Bee MA, Miller CT (eds) (2016) Psychological Mechanisms in Animal Communication. Series: Animal Signals and Communication (Janik VT, McGregor, PK, series editors), 320 pp. New York: Springer.

Bee MA, Miller CT (2016) Signaler and receiver psychology. In: Psychological Mechanisms in Animal Communication (eds. Bee MA and Miller CT), pp. 1-16. New York: Springer.

Bee MA (2016) Social recognition in anurans. In: Psychological Mechanisms in Animal Communication (eds. Bee MA and Miller CT), pp. 169-221. New York: Springer.

Bee MA, Christensen-Dalsgaard J (2016) Sound source localization and segregation with internally coupled ears: The treefrog model. Biological Cybernetics, 110, 271-290.

Brumm H, Bee MA (2016) A meta-analytic castle built on sand?: A Comment on Roca et al. Behavioral Ecology 27, 1277–1278.

Caldwell MS, Lee N, Bee MA (2016) Inherent directionality determines spatial release from masking at the tympanum in a vertebrate with internally coupled ears. Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology 17, 259-270.

Willaert B, Suyesh R, Garg S, Giri VB, Bee MA, Biju SD (2016) A unique mating strategy without physical contact during fertilization in Bombay Night Frogs (Nyctibatrachus humayuni) with the description of a new form of amplexus and female call. PeerJ 4:e2117.

Bee MA, Reichert MS, Tumulty J (2016) Assessment and recognition of rivals in anuran contests. Advances in the Study of Behavior, 48, 161-249.

Baugh AT, Ryan MJ, Bernal X, Rand AS, Bee MA (2016) Female túngara frogs do not experience the continuity illusion. Behavioral Neuroscience, 130, 62-74.

Chuang M-F, Kam Y-C, Bee MA (2016) Quantitative description of the vocal repertoire of the territorial olive frog, Babina adenopleura, from Taiwan. Bioacoustics, 25, 1-18.

Kershenbaum A, Blumstein DT, Roch MA, Akçay Ç, Backus G, Bee MA, (+37 more) (2016) Acoustic sequences in non-human animals: A tutorial review and prospectus. Biological Reviews, 91, 13-52.

Additional Links

Animal Communication Lab Homepage

612-624-6749 Fax: 612-624-6777

100 Ecology
1987 Upper Buford Circle
St. Paul, MN 55108