The following book, available June 9th but listed for pre-order now, is quite simply the culmination of my father's life's work. In its 520 pages, honorably published by Harvard press, is a summary of approximately four decades of research performed while a professor of biology at UNC, where he specialized in ethology (animal behavior) and ornithology (birds) (while also earning notable awards for his humorous, nuanced, insightful undergraduate teaching).
Over the course of my life (and since before my life) he has ventured all over the Northern, Central, and South American continents on trips often spanning several months at a stretch. I still have vague memories of these trips from my earliest years, before the structure of regular schooling nudged our family into more conventional habits. Notably, these habits rapidly evaporated once my sister and I left home, and over the last several years he returned to his lengthy adventures deep into the Peruvian Amazon. It is clear where his heart lies.
His specific area of study has long been bird vocalizations for communication. On these trips, he would engage in a variety of methods of study, but predominantly would charge into forests, swamps, savanna, remote islands, and tropical rain-forests with bags of recording equipment and spend hours upon hours recording bird songs and playing back those recordings to tease out the underlying patterns and rules that govern bird vocal communication across numerous species.
His work also includes, surely in no small part I would imagine, the contributions of his 40 odd PhD students (IIRC) and essentially uncountable Masters and undergraduate assistants.
Nicely done dad.__________________
Book synopsis from Amazon:
Noise, as we usually think of it, is background sound that interferes with our ability to hear more interesting sounds. In general terms, though, it is anything that interferes with the reception of signals of any sort. It includes extraneous energy in the environment, degradation of signals in transit, and spontaneous random activity in receivers and signalers. Whatever the cause, the consequence of noise is error by receivers, and these errors are the key to understanding how noise shapes the evolution of communication.
Noise Matters breaks new ground in the scientific understanding of how communication evolves in the presence of noise. Combining insights of signal detection theory with evidence from decades of his own original research, Haven Wiley explains the profound effects of noise on the evolution of communication. The coevolution of signalers and receivers does not result in ideal, noise-free communication, Wiley finds. Instead, signalers and receivers evolve to a joint equilibrium in which communication is effective but never error-free. Noise is inescapable in the evolution of communication.
Wiley’s comprehensive approach considers communication on many different levels of biological organization, from cells to individual organisms, including humans. Social interactions, such as honesty, mate choice, and cooperation, are reassessed in the light of noisy communication. The final sections demonstrate that noise even affects how we think about human language, science, subjectivity, and freedom. Noise Matters thus contributes to understanding the behavior of animals, including ourselves.http://www.amazon.com/Noise-Matters-Communication-Haven-Wiley/dp/0674744128