Progress on Writing

An activity that has been put off far too long due to the various health issues I had last year is getting papers published resulting from Diane and my dissertations. I’ve got three chapters to be made over; Diane has two. We have the additional constraint that we have to obtain clearance from the Navy Marine Mammal program for paper publications, which adds a set of reviews internal to the Navy before we can even submit papers to a journal.

Actually, my three chapters had been put in for Navy review last year, but only one seemed to come out the other end. The other two I’ve spent some time on recently and should be going back in shortly. Hopefully within a couple of months I’ll have the clearance and the opportunity to send them off to journals. There’s also taking care of the comments from the journal concerning the one paper that made it out of Navy review. One paper looks at simultaneous measurement of intranarial pressure and acoustics during a biosonar task in bottlenose dolphins, and reports on intranarial pressure differences between pressurization events that only have clicks and those that also have whistles. Another takes up what was learned about biosonar clicks when we had both intranarial pressure and acoustics. And the third concerns estimating the bioenergetic cost of pressurizing the gas in the bony nares of the dolphins.

Diane has been taking care of me and business this past year, so getting her chapters converted to papers is high on the to-do list. She has essentially two separate studies dealing with simple response time, both with bottlenose dolphins and white whales. One reports on simple response time in an auditory task when the subjects are given stimuli near threshold, and the other concerns response times when the stimuli are well above threshold. Once those are published, they’ll be the first papers to use a comparative approach to examination of simple response time across two species. Since simple response time work has been done ever since Helmholtz, this is a bit of a surprising novelty.

Beyond these, I have a few more to write up concerning the dissertation data. One will deal with properties of click trains and intranarial pressure. Another will examine a click classification system I used that was introduced by Houser, Helweg, and Moore in 1999. There’s a paper to be done on the apparent use of different biosonar task strategies between the subjects in the study.

Diane and I also have other data to be analyzed and written up. Probably the oldest set is the work we did on vocalizations of lekking male greater prairie chickens. The data goes back to 1994-1996. While we have various recordings taken of dolphins being rehabilitated at the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, it’s more likely we’ll turn to some recordings of dolphins and white whales taken with gear giving good signal response up through 1 MHz frequencies. It turns out that dolphins and white whales are emitting significant energy in their clicks up to 400 to 500 KHz. A preliminary report was given by Tom Muir at the Acoustical Society of America meeting this past fall bringing this up. While the odds are that these high frequencies are an artifact of the sound production process, the fact of the matter is that no one has yet tested dolphin or white whale hearing at those frequencies. I was able to talk with C. Scott Johnson, the physicist who produced the dolphin audiogram in the 1960’s (and when I say “the” I say it advisedly) about his choice of frequencies to test. Basically, he tested to the limit of his electronic gear at the time, which meant 200 KHz or lower for tones and 100 KHz or lower for short-duration pulses.

So, if I feel like there’s nothing to do, I can just come back to this post and disabuse myself of the notion.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.