In this brilliant, compassionate community of ours, we are honored to have a long-time member among us whose groundbreaking research is making headlines around the world. Wildlife research scientist Dr. Susan Lingle, aka “Tazzie” as she is known here, is currently shedding fascinating light on how the primal sound of a crying baby transcends all species.
Based out of the University of Winnepeg, Susan’s lab and Tobias Riede of Midwestern University have just made a fascinating discovery that’s being heralded around the world:
“deer mothers respond to newborn cries of diverse species of mammals, which suggests suggest that a response to infant cues of a different species is not uniquely human, but may instead be the result of sensory mechanisms shared across mammals through tens or hundreds of millions of years of evolution.”
The team’s study, “Deer Mothers Are Sensitive to Infant Distress Vocalizations of Diverse Mammalian Species,” is one of the first demonstrate that wild mammals will respond to the distressed cries of other species. According to renowned animal behaviorist Mark Beckoff, “This is a very interesting and important discovery in that when a youngster needs help they need it right then, not later.”
We are bringing this fascinating discovery to your attention today, in order to get the word out about Susan’s research and crowdfunding efforts to help her work continue. She recently explained why this is so important:
Our discovery that deer mothers respond to cries of other species – seals, cats, marmots, bats and even human babies – has led to many new project in my lab. For starters, we want to run experiments to see if human and dog mothers also respond to newborn cries regardless of the species. All these findings are revealing just how similar emotions and emotional vocalizations are across species.
Our first attempt to apply this work is to develop sound therapies that can be used to help relieve stress and associated health problems in captive wildlife living in zoos. Down the road, we may tackle a fostering project for orphaned wildlife or domestic animals – with surrogate mothers from the same or from a different species. These are some of the projects we are trying to fund so we welcome any sign of support. We are trying to raise enough funds to get two Postdocs started this spring (and to help undergraduates get great research experience during summer).
In addition, Susan’s lab’s discovery is leading to many new research directions with applications to human and animal health and welfare, such as
- using features of infant cries to diagnose certain health conditions
- designing the sound environment to relieve stress on animals living in captivity
- informed use of infant cries and surrogate mothers to promote fostering of orphaned animals.
Dr. Lingle needs funding to hire research trainee, Min Hooi Yong, as a Postdoctoral Fellow as well as undergraduate students, Cora Romanow and Travis Bannatyne, as summer research assistants to continue this research focusing on applications to human and animal health.
Our goal is to raise $25,000 by December 31, 2014. If you believe in the work being done in the Lingle Lab, and want to support the training of students, please make a gift and/or share this page. Every gift – be it $2 or $2,000 – makes a difference and the more people we can reach; the more likely we’ll be to hit our goal. All gifts made are tax deductible.
Please consider making a gift of any size to support this brilliant member of our community. Three-paws up to Susan and everyone who helps advance innovative wildlife research!
Ask Susan any questions about her research and learn more about her amazing work:
Recent news, written media:
- New Scientist (magazine with popular coverage of science breakthroughs)
- IFLSCIENCE on Facebook
- Psychology Today
- Daily Mail, UK newspaper
Radio or TV interviews: