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.)

  • Lee N, Vélez A, Bee M. Behind the mask(ing): how frogs cope with noise. J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2022 Oct 31. doi: 10.1007/s00359-022-01586-7.
  • Gupta S, Alluri RK, Rose GJ, Bee MA. Neural basis of acoustic species recognition in a cryptic species complex. J Exp Biol. 2021 Nov 19:jeb.243405.
  • Tumulty JP, Lange ZK, Bee MA. Identity signaling, identity reception and the evolution of social recognition in a Neotropical frog. Evolution. 2021 Nov 14. doi: 10.1111/evo.14400.
  • Gall MD, Baugh AT, Lucas JR, Bee MA. Social communication across reproductive boundaries: Hormones and the auditory periphery of songbirds and frogs. Integr Comp Biol. 2021 Jul 23;61(1):292-301.
  • Lee N, Christensen-Dalsgaard J, White LA, Schrode KM, Bee MA.Lung mediated auditory contrast enhancement improves the Signal-to-noise ratio for communication in frogs. Curr Biol. 2021 Apr 12;31(7):1488-1498.
  • Baugh AT, Gall MD, Silver SC, Bee MA. Moderately elevated glucocorticoids increase mate choosiness but do not affect sexual proceptivity or preferences in female gray treefrogs. Horm Behav. 2021 Apr;130:104950.
  • 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). Comp Biochem Physiol. 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;200:221-233.

Former Graduate Students:

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

Picture of Mark Bee