Peter Tyack is a behavioral ecologist who studies acoustic communication and social behavior in marine mammals. Tyack graduated summa cum laude in Biology from Harvard College and his PhD is in Animal Behavior from Rockefeller University. His PhD advisor was Donald Griffin, an early pioneer of studying animal sonar and animal awareness. Tyack’s interest in marine mammals was stimulated by their remarkable abilities to produce novel sounds by matching sounds that they hear. This ability of vocal production learning is critical for human language and music, but is rare among mammals. Tyack has studied the role of vocal learning in reproductive advertisement displays (songs) of baleen whales and in individually distinctive contact calls in dolphins. He has developed new methods to sample behavior continuously from marine mammals, including the development of sound-and-orientation recording tags in collaboration with engineer Mark Johnson. Tyack has used these tags to study echolocation in deep diving toothed whales as well as communication and responses of marine mammals to anthropogenic sounds. Working with marine mammal bioacoustics at sea, it was always obvious to him that anthropogenic sound was ubiquitous. Observations of the prevalence of anthropogenic sound in the oceans, coupled with his appreciation of how important sound is for marine mammals led him to be concerned about the impact of anthropogenic sound on marine mammals. Tyack has worked on a variety of projects developing experimental approaches to measure the relationship between acoustic exposure and behavioral response in marine mammals. Tyack is an author of more than 100 publications in peer reviewed scientific journals and another 100 research monographs, chapters in collective volumes, etc. He served on 3 US National Research Council Committees on the effects of sound on marine mammals, is an author of 3 reports published by the National Academy Press, and an editor of 2 books on animal behavior. He has served on the US Federal Advisory Committee on Acoustic Impacts on Marine Mammals, and testified to the US Congress and advised many government agencies on this topic.
For more information and details on Peter’s publications see his page on the University of St Andrews research portal.