Luke Rendell

"The true biologist deals with life, with teeming boisterous life, and learns something from it, learns that the first rule of life is living"
John Steinbeck, The Log from the Sea of Cortez

Hello Web-Watchers!

Well my Ph.D. is all done, but the story continues with Episode II: The Postdoc, an exciting thriller where we get to see whether our brave student can cut it in the rarified atmosphere of St Andrews University in Scotland, UK. To learn more about my research there, click here. So bye bye Canada, I'll miss you...

My research interests centre on the amazing vocal capacities of cetaceans, and, sadly, the impact of anthropogenic noise on their acoustic environment. The focus of my studies here at Dalhousie were the coda vocalisations of sperm whales - regular, often repeated, short patterns of clicks. Dialect structure in these vocalisations may be an example of stable animal culture. Interested? Read a summary of my research proposal for more details. I hope also to incorporate at least some pilot whale acoustics into my study too - because they're great!

During my time at Dalhousie I was lucky enough to take part in a 14 month field season following sperm whales off northern Chile, as well as research on the continental shelf of Nova Scotia.

I've been involved in cetacean science since helping in a photo-id study of bottlenose dolphins in Cardigan Bay, Wales, U.K. - where I hail from boyo - when I was 17 (some 8 years ago). Since then I have obtained an honours degree in Marine Zoology from the University College of North Wales, Bangor (1992-1995). After graduation I worked variously as a research assistant at the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, University of Oxford, as a consultant for the International Fund for Animal Welfare and Greenpeace and as a barman. Apart from the latter, all these projects concerned cetacean acoustics in some form. This has involved fieldwork in Scotland, Ireland, the Azores, the Ligurian and Alboran Seas in the Mediterranean, as well as the Caribbean and the Galapagos. I started my PhD here in May 1998, and finished it in July 2003, bringin me in at just under the departmental average at 5 years 1 month.

Click here for information on the workshop 'Culture in marine mammals' I co-organised for the 14th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals.

Click here to learn more about the inter-disciplinary Evolution Studies Group here at Dalhousie, a great discussion group I attend when time permits.

you are a student working on sperm whales, pilot whales, cetacean acoustics, cultural evolution, or dialects studies then
I want to hear from you!.
Drop me a line....


Publications (up to 2003)

Rendell, L., and H. Whitehead. In press. Comparing repertoires of sperm whale codas: a multiple methods approach. Bioacoustics. Abstract

Rendell, L., and H. Whitehead. In press. Cetacean culture and the meaning of identity. In: Culture and meanings among apes, ancient humans and modern humans. Edited by F. Joulian. Balland, Paris. Read Introduction

Rendell, L. & Whitehead, H. (2003) Vocal clans in sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus). Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences. Published online. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2002.2239. Abstract

Rendell, L and Whitehead, H (2001) Culture in whales and dolphins. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 24(2) : 309-382 Abstract

Gowans,S., and Rendell, L. (1999) Head-butting in northern bottlenose whales (Hyperoodon ampullatus): a possible function for big heads? Marine Mammal Science., 15(4) : 1342-1350 Summary

Rendell, L.E., Matthews, J., Gill, A., Gordon, J. & Macdonald, D.W. (1999) Quantitative analysis of the tonal calls of five odontocete species. Journal of Zoology., 249 : 403-410 Abstract

Matthews, J., Rendell, L.E., Gordon, J. & Macdonald, D.W. (1999) A review of frequency and time parameters of cetacean tonal calls. Bioacoustics, 10 : 47-71 Abstract

Rendell, L.E. & Gordon, J. (1999) Vocal response of long-finned pilot whales to military sonar in the Ligurian Sea. Marine Mammal Science. 15(1): 198-204. Summary

Rendell, L.E., Monker, H., Gillespie, D. & Gordon, J. (1997) Preliminary results of an acoustic survey in the southern Pacific Ocean conducted from the M.V. Arctic Sunrise. Paper SC/49/SH24 presented to the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission. Abstract

Rendell, L.E., Matthews, J., Gill, A. & Gordon, J. (1996) Marine mammal sound and the Sea Animal Noise Database System (SANDS). Technical report to the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, Farnborough, U.K. : Research Item ASO4EH23.

Gillespie, D., Leaper, R., Rendell, L.E. & Gordon, J. (1996) Behavioural response of sperm whales to ATOC-like sounds. Report to the U.S. Marine Mammal Research Program, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.

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Last Updated October, 2001 by me!