NEWS

Elk as heard through a Fishbowl

Unity College professor to offer detailed study of elk bugles that lure millions

A bull elk bugling

The haunting bugle call of North American elk will be the topic of the next in the Fishbowl colloquium series at Unity College.

The program is noon to 12:30, Thursday, Feb. 25, in Parsons Wing Room 204 of the Student Activities Center.

When Rocky Mountain National Park broke its attendance record in 2015, exceeding 4 million visitors, a disproportionately large number of visitors came for one reason: to hear the haunting sound of elk bugling during the autumn breeding season.

But these millions of visitors didn’t know what they were listening to, because the reason why elk bugle is largely unknown. The function of this amazing call has never been conclusively identified.

The presenter, Unity College Professor of Wildlife Biology Dr. Jennifer Clarke, served as Wallace Fellow and director of undergraduate study in the Department of Brain, Behaviour and Evolution, with research focusing on animal communication, at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. She has an extensive international background in teaching and learning, as well as research, in behavioral ecology.

Clarke’s work with elk has focused on quantifying the acoustic form of the elk bugle call, with the goal of “translating” this iconic sound.

“To date, we have identified signature characteristics unique to each bull, differences in bugles depending on bull body size and ‘mood,’ potential differences in who is the intended audience and, recently, a strong similarity between the signals of bull elk and professional football players,” Clarke said.

Clarke earned her PhD in Zoology and Behavioral Ecology from Washington State University in Pullman, Wash.; her MA in Zoology and Behavioral Ecology from the University of Montana in Missoula, Mont,; and her BA in zoology from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She taught at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colo., from 1989 to 2009, becoming a Full Professor in 2002.

Unity Fishbowl Talks is a colloquium series for Unity College faculty and invited outside speakers to discuss ideas on pedagogy and to present their scholarly work.

These discussions and presentations address the need for a trans-disciplinary forum for teaching efforts at Unity College and also provide an interdisciplinary forum for discussions on research. It is at this intersection of teaching and research goals where speakers can make the most impact on Unity College students. A light lunch and a coffee discussion are offered immediately afterward.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016