Kirsten (Kisi) Bohn

Kirsten (Kisi) Bohn

Chair & Director of Undergraduate Studies, Assistant Research Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Contact Information

Research Interests: Evolution of vocal complexity

Education: PhD, University of Maryland College Park

I am the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the David S. Olton Program in Behavioral Biology and the PI and director for the NSF funded REU Site: Biological Basis of Behavior.

I am interested in the evolution of vocal and social complexity. Everyone would agree that humans have the greatest vocal complexity known. However, even though a great deal of research has focused on speech production and language evolution, these topics remain highly controversial. This is in part because only a handful of animals use complex vocal signals. Song birds have been our main model for the neurophysiology of speech and the evolution of complex vocalizations. Our goal is to add bats as a new comparative model to better understand the production and evolution of vocal complexity.

Why Bats? -Bats are diverse with over 1,200 species, extremely social, very vocal and have a highly specialized audio-vocal system for echolocation. This sonar system requires neurocircuitry for using incoming echoes to rapidly modify outgoing vocalizations The recent development of high-speed data acquisition cards, small laptop computers with large storage capabilities, infrared lights and weather resistant ultrasonic microphones has resulted in a plethora of new discoveries, including elaborate bird-like songs. 

Additional publications can be found on Google Scholar.

Salles, A., Bohn, K.M and C.F. Moss. 2019. Auditory communication processing in bats: what we know and where to go. Behavioral Neuroscience.133:305-319.

Wilkinson, G.S., Carter, G. Bohn, K.M., Caspers, B., Chaverri, G. Farine, D., Günther, L. Kerth, G., Knörnschild, M., Mayer, F., Nagy, M., Ortega, J. and K. Patriquin. 2019. Kinship, association and social complexity in bats. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.73:7.

Bohn, K. M. and E. H. Gillam. 2018. In-flight social calls: a primer for biologists and managers studying echolocation. Canadian Journal of Zoology 96: 787- 800.

Smotherman, M., Knörnschild, M., Smarsh, G. and K. Bohn. 2016. The origins and diversity of bat songs. Journal of Comparative Physiology A,202: 535-554.

Wilkinson, G.S., Carter, G.G., Bohn, K.M. and D.M. Adams. 2016. Non-kin cooperation in bats. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 371:20150095.

Kershenbaum, A., Blumstein, D.T., Roch, M. Akcay, C. Backus, G. Bee, M., Bohn, K. and 20 others.. 2014. Acoustic sequences in non-human animals: a tutorial review and prospectus. Biological Reviews 19:15-32.

Kershenbaum, A., Bowles, A.E., Freeberg, T.M., Jin, D.Z., Lameira, A.R. and K. M. Bohn. 2014. Animal vocal sequences: not the Markov chains we thought they were. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 281: 20141370.

Bohn, K.M., Smarsh, G. and M.S. Smotherman. 2013. Social context evokes rapid changes in bat song syntax. Animal Behaviour, 85:1485-91

Martinez, J.G., Bohn, K.M., Morris, J.S., and R.J. Carroll. 2013. A study of Brazilian free-tailed bat chirp syllables: multi-domain composite transform modeling of nonstationary time series data with high frequency content using Bayesian functional mixed models. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 108:514-526.

Jarvis, J., Bohn, K.M., Tressler, J. and M. Smotherman. 2010. Antiphonal echolocation strategies used by free-tailed bats. Animal Behaviour, 79: 787-796. (A featured article in Animal Behaviour 79:769-770)

Bohn, K.M., French, B., Schwartz, C., Smotherman, M. and G. Pollak. 2009. Versatility and stereotypy of free-tailed bat songs. PLoS ONE 4(8): e6746.

Bohn, K. M., Moss, C.F., and G. S. Wilkinson. 2009. Pup guarding by unrelated greater spear-nosed bats. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 63:1693-1703

Bohn, K.M., Schmidt-French, B., Ma, T.S. and G. D. Pollak. 2008. Syllable acoustics, temporal patterns and call composition vary with behavioral context in Mexican free-tailed bats. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 124:1838 - 1848.

Bohn, K. M., Wilkinson, G. S. and C. F. Moss. 2007. Discrimination of infant isolation calls by female greater spear-nosed bats, Phyllostomus hastatus. Animal Behaviour 73:423 - 432

Bohn, K. M., Moss, C. F. and G. S. Wilkinson. 2006. Correlated evolution between hearing sensitivity and social calls in bats. Biology Letters 2:561 - 564.

Bohn, K. M., Boughman, J. W., Wilkinson, G. S., and C. F. Moss. 2004. Auditory sensitivity and frequency selectivity in greater spear-nosed bats suggest specializations for acoustic communication. Journal of Comparative Physiology. A. 190:185-192.

Book Chapters / Encyclopedias

Salles, A and Bohn, K.M. 2019. Microchiropteran Communication. In: Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior (J. Vong and T. Shackelford eds). Springer. 

Bohn, K.M. and G.G. Carter. 2017. Reciprocal altruism and cooperation for mutual benefit. Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science (T.K. Shackelford and V.A. Weekes-Shackelford eds)

Bohn, K.M. and G.G. Carter. 2017. Altruism among non-kin.In: Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science (T.K. Shackelford and V.A. Weekes-Shackelford eds)

Smotherman, M., Bohn, K., Davis, K., Rogers, K. and Schwartz, C.P. 2016. Daily and Seasonal Patterns of Singing by the Mexican Free-Tailed Bat, Tadarida brasiliensis. In Sociality in Bats, pp. 197-209. Springer International Publishing.

Bohn, K., Montiel-Reyes, F. and Salazar, I., 2016. The Complex Songs of Two Molossid Species. In Sociality in Bats (pp. 143-160). Springer International Publishing.

Pollak, G.D., Andoni, S. Bohn, K. and J. X. Gittelman. 2013 The repertoire of communication calls emitted by bats and the way the calls are processed in the inferior colliculus.  In: Animal Models of Speech and Language.  S. Helekar (ed), Springer-Verlag.