Document Type



Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor's Name

Philip Stoddard

First Advisor's Committee Title

Co-Committe chair

Second Advisor's Name

Kirsten Bohn

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Co-Committe chair

Third Advisor's Name

Jamie Theobald

Third Advisor's Committee Title

committee member


vocal dialects, vocalizations, regional variation, song, Tadarida brasiliensis, vocal learning, bat

Date of Defense



While much work has been done on regional vocal variation in birds, relatively few studies have found evidence of similar variation in mammalian vocalizations. This study quantifies individual, colonial, and regional level variation in T. brasiliensis songs in the southeastern United States. Brazilian free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) are among a handful of mammals that produce complex, hierarchically structured vocalizations. Their songs are composed of multiple syllables that are combined into three phrases that vary in number and order across renditions. Tadarida brasiliensis songs showed considerable amount of variation, and differed significantly between locations in terms of syllable structure and song syntax. Some of the variation observed was not correlated to geographical distance, and is unlikely to be explained by genetic divergence or differences in habitat use. These results indicate the existence of vocal dialects and a possible role of vocal production learning in dialect formation in this species.






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