Philosophy Student-Faculty Research

The Urban Coyote Project


How much does the urban environment change the way coyotes vocalize and communicate? Montana State University and California State University are collaborating on a research project called “The Urban Coyote Project.” Students on both campuses will be out in the field, working with lead researcher, Sara Waller, in tracking coyotes and recording their yips, yelps and ululations. The team is looking for parallels, and differences, between coyote vocalizations in rural (Montana) sites and urban (Los Angeles) sites. The students are also learning about the philosophy of animal minds.

Listen to Coyote Recordings

Click here to listen to recent Coyote recordings.

These recordings were captured about 45 miles outside of Bozeman (on the road to Butte) in Cardell on Oct. 9th, 2010.  The coyotes were out between 8 and 9 pm.  Three students (Riley Halligan, Alex Ames, and Jordan Olson) are currently analyzing frequency spectrograms of these vocalizations.

For more coyote vocalization images, see Professor Waller's webpage here.

The Dolphin Connection

Do land based social predators make the same kinds of vocalizations as ocean based social predators? MSU students have been trained in the use of a hydrophone and other cetacean recording equipment, as well as have the experience of driving the boat offshore to sites where bottlenose dolphins are often observed. When we have a good sample of both coyote and dolphin vocalizations, their com-municative sounds will be compared in an effort to discover more about how social predators vocally convey meaning to others within their species. Ultimately, this will contribute to a deeper philosophical understanding of meaning and language.