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Bioacoustics is the study of how animals use sound for communication and echolocation. Animals use sound ranging from infrasounds to ultrasounds to send messages to conspecifics. Basic messages are for calling mates (sexual calls), warning about a danger (alarm calls) or to intimidate a competitor (aggressive calls). In birds and mammals more complex messages can be broadcast. Some animals can also investigate the surrounding environment by emitting sounds and listening for returning echoes. Bats and dolphins have developed the most advanced echolocation capabilities to avoid obstacles and to find prey. They use short ultrasonic signals, not audible for the human ear, to reveal small objects (shorter the wavelength, smaller the objects that can be detected). This ability is also called "bio-sonar" or biological sonar. A special branch of bioacoustics concerns the underwater world and marine mammals in particular.

The most recent advances in bioacoustics concern the relationships among the animals and their environment and the impact of anthropogenic noise.

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