Mark Bee, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior


Research Interests:

Research in my lab takes an integrative, comparative, and multi-disciplinary approach that draws on questions and methods from behavioral ecology, evolutionary biology, comparative psychology, human psychoacoustics, and neurophysiology to provide answers to fundamental questions about animal communication, such as: (i) How do animals encode information about themselves in the production of acoustic signals? (ii) How do animals acquire information about other conspecifics through the perception of acoustic signals? (iii) How do these processes function in natural habitats and noisy social environments? And (iv) how do these processes evolve? While open to work on numerous taxa, our principal study organisms are frogs, in which acoustic communication mediates many important behaviors related to reproduction.

We are currently focused on two major questions. First, how do animals perceive the vocalizations of other individuals in noisy social environments? In this context, we are investigating questions related to “auditory scene analysis” and the so-called “cocktail party problem” to understand how the frog auditory system forms auditory objects of acoustic signals and segregates the signals of one male from the din of background noise in a large breeding chorus. Second, what is the role of acoustic signaling in mediating the aggressive male-male interactions that arise from sexual selection and take place in social environments that are both temporally and spatially variable? In this context, our work investigates vocally mediated social recognition, behavioral plasticity, learning, and honest signaling in male frogs that defend calling sites or breeding territories.

Selected Publications:

(For a comprehensive list of recent publications, refer to PubMed, a service provided by the National Library of Medicine.)

  • Gupta S, Bee MA. Treefrogs exploit temporal coherence to form perceptual objects of communication signals. Biol Lett. 2020 Sep;16(9):20200573.
  • Christensen-Dalsgaard J, Lee N, Bee MA. Lung-to-ear sound transmission does not improve directional hearing in green treefrogs ( Hyla cinerea). J Exp Biol. 2020 Sep 6:jeb.232421.
  • Tanner JC, Bee MA. Inconsistent sexual signaling degrades optimal mating decisions in animals. Sci Adv. 2020 May 15;6(20):eaax3957.
  • Lee N, Schrode KM, Bee MA. Nonlinear processing of a multicomponent communication signal by combination-sensitive neurons in the anuran inferior colliculus. J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2017;203(9):749-772.
  • Tanner JC, Ward JL, Shaw RG, Bee MA. Multivariate phenotypic selection on a complex sexual signal. Evolution. 2017;71(7):1742-1754.
  • Lee N, Ward JL, Vélez A, Micheyl C, Bee MA. Frogs exploit statistical regularities in noisy acousticscenes to solve cocktail-party-like problems. Curr Biol. 2017;27(5):743-750.
  • Bee MA, Christensen-Dalsgaard J. Sound source localization and segregation with internally coupled ears: the treefrog model. Biol Cybern. 2016;110(4-5):271-290.
  • Baugh AT, Ryan MJ, Bernal XE, Rand AS, Bee MA. Female túngara frogs do not experience the continuity illusion. Behav Neurosci. 2016;130(1):62-74.
  • Caldwell MS, Lee N, Bee MA. Inherent directionality determines spatial release from masking at the tympanum in a vertebrate with internally coupled ears. J Assoc Res Otolaryngol. 2016;17(4):259-70.
  • Chuang M-F, Kam Y-C, Bee MA. Quantitative description of the vocal repertoire of the territorial olive frog, Babina adenopleura, from Taiwan. Bioacoustics. 2016;
  • Bee MA. Treefrogs as animal models for research on auditory scene analysis and the cocktail party problem. J Psychophysiol. 2015;95(2):216-37.
  • Schrode KM, Bee MA. Evolutionary adaptations for the temporal processing of natural sounds by the anuran peripheral auditory system. J Exp Biol. 2015;218(Pt 6):837-48.
  • Ward JL, Love EK, Baugh AT, Gordon NM, Bee MA. Progesterone and prostaglandin F2α induce species-typical female preferences for male sexual displays in Cope's gray treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis). Physiol Behav. 2015;152(Pt A):280-287.
  • Kershenbaum A, Blumstein DT, Roch MA, Akcay C, Backus G, Bee MA, et al.  Acoustic sequences in non-human animals: A tutorial review and prospectus. Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc. 2016;91:13-52.
  • Buerkle NP, Schrode KM, Bee MA. Auditory brainstem responses in the green treefrog (Hyla cinerea). Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A, 2014;178:68-81.
  • Caldwell MS, Lee N, Schrode KM, Johns AR, Christensen-Dalsgaard J, Bee MA. Spatial hearing in Cope's gray treefrog: II. Frequency-dependent directionality in the amplitude and phase of tympanum vibrations. J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2014;200(4):285-304.
  • Caldwell MS, Bee MA. Spatial hearing in Cope's gray treefrog: I. Open and closed loop experiments on sound localization in the presence and absence of noise. J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2014;200(4):265-84.
  • Schrode KM, Buerkle NP, Brittan-Powell EF, Bee MA. Auditory brainstem responses in Cope's gray treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis): effects of frequency, level, sex and size. J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2014;200(3):221-38.
  • Thomas A, Suyesh R, Biju SD, Bee MA. Vocal behavior of the elusive purple frog of India (Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis), a fossorial species endemic to the Western Ghats. PLoS One. 2014;9(2):e84809.
  • Buerkle NP, Schrode KM, Bee MA. Assessing stimulus and subject influences on auditory evoked potentials and their relation to peripheral physiology in green treefrogs (Hyla cinerea). Comp Biochem and Physiol A. 2014;178:68-81.
  • Schrode KM, Buerkle NP, Brittan-Powell EF, Bee MA. Auditory brainstem responses in Cope's gray treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis): effects of frequency, level, sex and size. J Comp Physiol A. 2014;200:221-238.
  • Ward JL, Buerkle NP, Bee MA. Spatial release from masking improves sound pattern discrimination along a biologically relevant pulse-rate continuum in gray treefrogs. Hear Res. 2013;306:63-75.
  • Vélez A, Linehan-Skillings BJ, Gu Y, Sun Y, Bee MA. Pulse-number discrimination by Cope's gray treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis) in modulated and unmodulated noise. J Acoust Soc Am. 2013;134:3079-89.
  • Vélez A, Bee MA. Signal recognition by green treefrogs (Hyla cinerea) and Cope’s gray treefrogs (Hyla chrysoscelis) in naturally fluctuating noise. J Comp Psychol. 2013;127(2):166-78.
  • Vélez A, Höbel G, Gordon NM, Bee MA. Dip listening or modulation masking? Call recognition by green treefrogs (Hyla cinerea) in temporally fluctuating noise. J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2012;198(12):891-904.
  • Bee MA, Suyesh R, Biju SD. The vocal repertoire of Pseudophilautus kani, a shrub frog (Anura: Rhacophoridae) from the Western Ghats of India. Bioacoustics 2012;22(1):1-19
  • Vélez A, Schwartz JJ, Bee MA.Anuran acoustic signal perception in noisy environments. IIn: Brumm H. (eds) Animal Communication and Noise. Animal Signals and Communication, vol 2. 2013; pp 133-185. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.
  • Schrode KM, Ward JL, Vélez A, Bee MA. Female preferences for spectral call properties in the western genetic lineage of Cope's gray treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis). Behav Ecol Sociobiol. 2012;66(12):1595-1606.
  • Pettitt BA, Bourne GR, Bee MA. Quantitative acoustic analysis of the vocal repertoire of the golden rocket frog (Anomaloglossus beebei). J Acoust Soc Am. 2012;131(6):4811-4820.
  • Bee MA, Vélez A, Forester JD. Sound level discrimination by gray treefrogs in the presence and absence of chorus-shaped noise. J Acoust Soc Am. 2012;131(5):4188-95
  • Bee MA, Sound source perception in anuran amphibians. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2012;22(2):301-310.
  • Nityananda V, Bee MA. Spatial release from masking in a free-field source identification task by gray treefrogs. Hear Res. 2012;285(1-2):86-97.
  • Miller CT, Bee MA. Receiver psychology turns 20: Is it time for a broader approach? Anim Behav. 2012;83:331-343.

Former Graduate Students:

Katrina Schrode (Ph.D. 2014, Neuroscience, University of Minnesota).

Mark Bee