Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft Leibniz-Gemeinschaft

Communication Rhythms Across the Animal Kingdom: A Comparative Perspective Including Humans

Vortragende(r) Lara Sophie Burchardt
Institution(en) Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Datum 15.02.2024, 14:00 - 15:30 Uhr
Uhrzeit 14:00 Uhr
Ort Virtual (see below)


Rhythmicity in the millisecond to second range is a fundamental building block of communication in humans and other animals. The temporal structure of animals’ acoustic signals for example can inform about context, urgency, species, individual identity, or geographical origin. But how widespread are rhythmic capacities across species, and how did they evolve under different environmental pressures? Comparative research is necessary to answer these questions but has been hindered by limited crosstalk and comparability among results from different study species and research fields. In my work, I establish methods and workflows to analyze the temporal structure–namely the rhythm–of any acoustic communication signal with methods that are applicable for a wide range of signals and results that are easily comparable and interpretable. All of them aim at enhancing the understanding of rhythmicality in communication signals as well as to facilitate comparison between species, including humans. With this at some point we will hopefully be able to answer questions on the evolutionary origins of communication rhythms as well as their biological building blocks. In this talk I will give an overview of methods useful for the comparative analysis of rhythms in communication signals across the animal kingdom and showcase some examples where human and animal communication might be more alike, than we sometimes think. 

Venue: Virtual, please send an e-mail to zas.xtalks@leibniz-zas.de to get the Zoom invitation link.To be let in, use your proper name.

Über Lara Burchardt

Dr. Lara Burchardt received her PhD from Freie Universität Berlin and Museum für Naturkunde Berlin. In her doctoral thesis she mainly investigated rhythmic structures in animals' acoustic signals. Since then, she has been working on communication in rhythms of different species, including bats, seals, frogs and fish. Most recently, she worked as a research associate at ZAS, investigating rhythms in DoReCo languages using the same methods as in her work with animals. Burchardt has just started a DFG project on beat precision, rhythm analysis, and whether beat precision tells us anything about the relevance of rhythms.