Prof Vincent Janik

Professor of Biology
Director of Scottish Oceans Institute

tel: 01334 467214
fax: 01334 463443
room: 2.18  (SOI)
Scottish Oceans Institute
East Sands
University of St Andrews
St Andrews
KY16 8LB

General Information

Additional Information

  • 1992 German Masters degree in Biology (Freie Universität Berlin, Germany)
  • 1998 PhD (University of St Andrews,UK)
  • 1998-2000 German National Merit Foundation Postdoctoral Investigator (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, USA)
  • 2001  Marie-Curie Postdoctoral Investigator (University of St Andrews, UK)
  • 2002-2009 Royal Society University Research Fellow (University of St Andrews, UK)
  • 2009/2010 Fellow of the Wisseschaftskolleg Berlin - Centre for Advanced Study, Germany
  • 2009-2014 Reader in Biology (University of St Andrews, UK)
  • since 2014 Professor in Biology (University of St Andrews, UK)



 I am working in the field of animal communication, specializing in marine mammals. My main research interest is the evolution of complexity in communication systems and how this complexity can affect social interaction. This work takes two different approaches. I investigate environmental constraints that influence the design of vocal communication systems and the underlying cognitive skills required to overcome or circumvent such constraints. Much of this work concentrates on vocal communication in the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). This species combines the ability of vocal learning with complex cognitive skills that exceed those of most other animals. Comparative work focuses on grey and harbour seals as well as other dolphin species. I am a member of the Sea Mammal Research Unit and the Centre for Social Learning and Cognitive Evolution. If you want to join my group, please click here.


Recent Publications

Sayigh, L, Wells, R & Janik, VM 2017, 'What's in a voice? Dolphins do not use voice cues for individual recognition' Animal Cognition, vol First Online. DOI: 10.1007/s10071-017-1123-5
Harris, CM, Thomas, L, Falcone, E, Hildebrand, J, Houser, D, Kvadsheim, P, Lam, F-PA, Miller, P, Moretti, DJ, Read, A, Slabbekoorn, H, Southall, BL, Tyack, PL, Wartzok, D & Janik, VM 2017, 'Marine mammals and sonar: dose-response studies, the risk-disturbance hypothesis and the role of exposure context' Journal of Applied Ecology, vol Early view. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12955
Schakner, ZA, Götz, T, Janik, VM & Blumstein, DT 2017, 'Can fear conditioning repel California sea lions from fishing activities?' Animal Conservation, vol Early View. DOI: 10.1111/acv.12329
Lucke, K, Hastie, GD, Ternes, K, McConnell, BJ, Moss, S, Russell, DJ, Weber, H & Janik, VM 2016, 'Aerial low frequency hearing in captive and free-ranging harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) using auditory brainstem responses' Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology, vol 202, no. 12, pp. 859-868. DOI: 10.1007/s00359-016-1126-8
Russell, DJF, Hastie, GD, Thompson, D, Janik, VM, Hammond, PS, Scott-Hayward, LAS, Matthiopoulos, J, Jones, EL & McConnell, BJ 2016, 'Avoidance of wind farms by harbour seals is limited to pile driving activities' Journal of Applied Ecology, vol 53, no. 6, pp. 1642-1652. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12678
Goetz, T & Janik, VM 2016, 'The startle reflex in acoustic deterrence: an approach with universal applicability?' Animal Conservation, vol 19, pp. 225-226. DOI: 10.1111/acv.12295
Götz, T & Janik, VM 2016, 'Non-lethal management of carnivore predation: long-term tests with a startle-reflex based deterrence system on a fish farm' Animal Conservation, vol 19, pp. 212-221. DOI: 10.1111/acv.12248
Favaro, L, Neves, S, Furlati, S, Pessani, D, Martin, V & Janik, VM 2016, 'Evidence suggests vocal production learning in a cross-fostered Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus)' Animal Cognition, vol 19, pp. 847-853. DOI: 10.1007/s10071-016-0961-x
Stansbury, A, Deecke, V, Gotz, T & Janik, VM 2016, Potential uses of anthropogenic noise as a source of information in animal sensory and communication systems. in AN Popper & A Hawkins (eds), The Effects of Noise on Aquatic Life II. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, vol. 875, Springer, pp. 1105-1111. DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4939-2981-8_137
Hastie, GD, Russell, DJF, McConnell, BJ, Thompson, D & Janik, VM 2016, 'Multiple-pulse sounds and seals: results of a harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) telemetry study during windfarm construction' Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, vol 875, pp. 425-430. DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4939-2981-8_50
Stansbury, A, de Freitas, M, Wu, G-M & Janik, VM 2015, 'Can a gray seal (Halichoerus grypus) generalize call classes?' Journal of Comparative Psychology, vol 129, no. 4, pp. 412-420. DOI: 10.1037/a0039756
King, SL & Janik, VM 2015, 'Come dine with me: food-associated social signalling in wild bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)' Animal Cognition, vol 18, no. 4, pp. 969-974. DOI: 10.1007/s10071-015-0851-7
Hastie, GD, Russell, DJF, McConnell, BJ, Moss, S, Thompson, D & Janik, VM 2015, 'Sound exposure in harbour seals during the installation of an offshore wind farm: predictions of auditory damage' Journal of Applied Ecology, vol 52, no. 3, pp. 631-640. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12403
Gotz, T & Janik, VM 2015, 'Target-specific acoustic predator deterrence in the marine environment' Animal Conservation, vol 18, no. 1, pp. 102-111. DOI: 10.1111/acv.12141
Stansbury, A, Gotz, T, Deecke, VB & Janik, VM 2015, 'Grey seals use anthropogenic signals from acoustic tags to locate fish: evidence from a simulated foraging task' Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol 282, no. 1798, 20141595. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.1595
Janik, VM 2015, 'Play in dolphins' Current Biology, vol 25, no. 1, pp. R7-R8. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.09.010
Cheney, B, Corkery, R, Durban, J, Grellier, K, Hammond, PS, Islas Villanueva, V, Janik, VM, Lusseau, S, Parsons, K, Quick, NJ, Wilson, B & Thompson, P 2014, 'Long-term trends in the use of a protected area by small cetaceans in relation to changes in population status' Global Ecology and Conservation, vol 2, pp. 118-128. DOI: 10.1016/j.gecco.2014.08.010
Janik, VM 2014, 'Cetacean vocal learning and communication' Current Opinion in Neurobiology, vol 28, pp. 60-65. DOI: 10.1016/j.conb.2014.06.010
Russell, DJF, Brasseur, S, Thompson, D, Hastie, GD, Janik, VM, Aarts, G, McClintock, BT, Matthiopoulos, J, Moss, S & McConnell, BJ 2014, 'Marine mammals trace anthropogenic structures at sea' Current Biology, vol 24, no. 14, pp. R638-R639. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.06.033
Quick, NJ, Arso Civil, M, Cheney, B, Islas Villanueva, V, Janik, V, Thompson, P & Hammond, PS 2014, The east coast of Scotland bottlenose dolphin population: improving understanding of ecology outside the Moray Firth SAC. OESEA2 Supporting documents, no. 14D/086, Department of Energy and Climate Change.
Gridley, T, Cockcroft, V, Hawkins, ER, Lemon Blewitt, M, Morisaka, T & Janik, VM 2014, 'Signature whistles in free ranging populations of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops aduncus' Marine Mammal Science, vol 30, no. 2, pp. 512-527. DOI: 10.1111/mms.12054
Hastie, GD, Donovan, CR, Gotz, T & Janik, VM 2014, 'Behavioral responses by grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) to high frequency sonar' Marine Pollution Bulletin, vol 79, no. 1-2, pp. 205-210. DOI: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2013.12.013
King, SL, Harley, H & Janik, VM 2014, 'The role of signature whistle matching in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)' Animal Behaviour, vol 96, pp. 79-86. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2014.07.019
Gotz, T & Janik, VM 2013, 'Acoustic deterrent devices to prevent pinniped depredation: efficiency, conservation concerns and possible solutions' Marine Ecology Progress Series, vol 492, pp. 285-302. DOI: 10.3354/meps10482
Kershenbaum, A, Sayigh, L & Janik, VM 2013, 'The encoding of individual identity in dolphin signature whistles: how much information is needed?' PLoS One, vol 8, no. 10, e77671. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0077671
King, SL & Janik, V 2013, 'Bottlenose dolphins can use learned vocal labels to address each other' Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol 110, no. 32, pp. 13216-13221. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1304459110
King, SL, Sayigh, L, Wells, R, Fellner, W & Janik, V 2013, 'Vocal copying of individually distinctive signature whistles in bottlenose dolphins' Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol 280, no. 1757, 20130053 . DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2013.0053
Jensen, F, Rocco, A, Mansur, R, Smith, B, Janik, VM & Madsen, P 2013, 'Clicking in Shallow Rivers: Short-Range Echolocation of Irrawaddy and Ganges River Dolphins in a Shallow, Acoustically Complex Habitat' PLoS One, vol 8, no. 4, e59284. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059284
Janik, VM 2013, 'Cognitive skills in bottlenose dolphin communication' Trends in Cognitive Sciences, vol 17, no. 4, pp. 157-159. DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2013.02.005
Tyack, PL & Janik, VM 2013, Effects of noise on acoustic signal production in marine mammals. in H Brumm (ed.), Animal Communication and Noise. Animal Signals and Communication, vol. 2, Springer, Berlin, pp. 251-271.
Janik, VM & Sayigh, L 2013, 'Communication in bottlenose dolphins: 50 years of signature whistle research' Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology, vol 199, pp. 479-489. DOI: 10.1007/s00359-013-0817-7
Janik, VM, King, SL, Sayigh, LS & Wells, RS 2013, 'Identifying Signature Whistles from Recordings of Groups of Unrestrained Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)' Marine Mammal Science, vol 29, no. 1, pp. 109-122. DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.2011.00549.x
Cheney, B, Thompson, PM, Ingram, SN, Hammond, PS, Stevick, PT, Durban, JW, Culloch, RM, Elwen, SH, Mandleberg, L, Janik, VM, Quick, NJ, Islas Villanueva, V, Robinson, KP, Costa, M, Eisfeld, SM, Walters, A, Phillips, C, Weir, CR, Evans, PGH, Anderwald, P, Reid, RJ, Reid, JB & Wilson, B 2013, 'Integrating multiple data sources to assess the distribution and abundance of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in Scottish waters.' Mammal Review, vol 43, pp. 71-88. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2907.2011.00208.x
Gridley, T, Berggren, P, Cockcroft, V & Janik, VM 2012, 'Whistle vocalizations of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) inhabiting the south-west Indian Ocean' Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, vol 132, no. 6, pp. 4032-4040. DOI: 10.1121/1.4763990
Norris, T, Martin, S, Thomas, L, Yack, T, Oswald, J, Nosal, EM & Janik, VM 2012, 'Acoustic ecology and behavior of minke whales in the Hawaiian and Marianas islands: localization, abundance estimation, and characterization of minke whale "boings"' Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, vol 730, pp. 149-153.
Quick, NJ & Janik, V 2012, 'Bottlenose dolphins exchange signature whistles when meeting at sea' Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences, vol 279, no. 1738, pp. 2539-2545. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2011.2537
Deecke, VB, Nykänen, M, Foote, A & Janik, VM 2011, 'Vocal behaviour and feeding ecology of killer whales Orcinus orca around Shetland, UK' Aquatic Biology, vol 13, pp. 79-88. DOI: 10.3354/ab00353
Gotz, T & Janik, V 2011, 'Repeated elicitation of the acoustic startle reflex leads to sensitisation in subsequent avoidance behaviour and induces fear conditioning' BioMed Central Neuroscience, vol 12, 30. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2202-12-30
Gotz, T & Janik, V 2010, 'Aversiveness of sounds in phocid seals: psycho-physiological factors, learning processes and motivation' Journal of Experimental Biology, vol 213, no. 9, pp. 1536-1548. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.035535
Slater, PJB & Janik, VM 2010, Vocal learning. in M Breed & J Moore (eds), Encyclopedia of Animal Behaviour. Elsevier.
Sayigh, LS & Janik, VM 2010, Signature whistles. in M Breed & J Moore (eds), Encyclopedia of Animal Behaviour. Elsevier.
Janik, VM 2009, 'Whale Song', pp. R109-R111, Current Biology, 19 10 February.
Naguib, M, Clayton, N, Zuberbuhler, K & Janik, VM 2009, Advances in the Study of Behavior, Vol. 40 - Acoustic communication in birds and mammals. Elsevier (incl. Pergamon ).
Janik, VM 2009, 'Acoustic communication in delphinids' Advances in the Study of Behavior, vol 40, pp. 123-157. DOI: 10.1016/S0065-3454(09)40004-4
Sayigh, LS & Janik, VM 2009, Signature whistles. in WF Perrin, B Würsig & JGM Thewissen (eds), Encyclopedia of marine mammals, 2nd edition. Academic Press Inc., pp. 1014-1016.
Quick, NS, Rendell, LE & Janik, VM 2008, 'A mobile acoustic localization system for the study of free ranging dolphins during focal follows' Marine Mammal Science, vol 24, pp. 979-989. DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.2008.00231.x
Quick, NJ & Janik, VM 2008, 'Whistle rates of wild bottlenose dolphins: influences of group size and behavior' Journal of Comparative Psychology, vol 122, pp. 305-311. DOI: 10.1037/0735-7036.122.3.305
Sayigh, LS, Esch, HC, Wells, RS & Janik, VM 2007, 'Facts about signature whistles of bottlenose dolpins, Tursiops truncatus' Animal Behaviour, vol 74, no. 6, pp. 1631-1642. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2007.02.018
Wigg, Ø, Bachmann, L, Janik, VM, Kovacs, KM & Lydersen, C 2007, 'Spitsbergen bowhead whales revisited' Marine Mammal Science, vol 23, pp. 688-693. DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.2007.02373.x
Laland, KN & Janik, VM 2007, 'Response to Krutzen et al.: Further problems with the 'method of exclusion'' Trends in Ecology and Evolution, vol 22, no. 1, pp. 7. DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2006.10.010
Laland, KN & Janik, VM 2006, 'The animal cultures debate' Trends in Ecology and Evolution, vol 21, no. 10, pp. 542-547. DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2006.06.005
Janik, VM, Sayigh, LS & Wells, RS 2006, 'Signature whistle shape conveys identity information to bottlenose dolphins' Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol 103, no. 21, pp. 8293-8297. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0509918103
Deecke, VB & Janik, VM 2006, 'Automated categorization of bioacoustic signals: avoiding perceptual pitfalls' Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, vol 119, pp. 645-653. DOI: 10.1121/1.2139067
Janik, V 2006, Marine mammal communication. in K Brown (ed.), Encyclopedia of language and linguistics-second edition. Elsevier (incl. Pergamon ), pp. 646-654.
Janik, V 2005, Acoustic communication networks in marine mammals. in PK McGregor (ed.), Animal Communication Networks. Cambridge University Press, pp. 390-415.
Shapiro, AD, Slater, PJB & Janik, V 2004, 'Call usage learning in gray seals (Halichoerus grypus)' Journal of Comparative Psychology, vol 118, no. 4, pp. 447-454. DOI: 10.1037/0735-7036.118.4.447
Lachlan, R, Janik, V & Slater, PJB 2004, 'The evolution of conformity enforcing behaviour in cultural communication systems' Animal Behaviour, vol 68, pp. 561-570.
Byrne, RW, Barnard, PJ, Davidson, I, Janik, V, McGrew, WC, Miklósi, A & Wiessner, P 2004, 'Understanding Culture Across Species' Trends in Cognitive Sciences, vol 8, no. 8, pp. 341-346. DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2004.06.002
Shapiro, AD, Janik, V & Slater, PJB 2003, 'A gray seal's (Halichoerus grypus) responses to experimenter-given pointing and directional cues' Journal of Comparative Psychology, vol 117, pp. 355-362. DOI: 10.1037/0735-7036.117.4.355
Janik, V & Slater, PJB 2003, Traditions in mammalian and avian vocal communication. in MD Fragaszy & MD Perry (eds), The biology of tradition: models and evidences. Cambridge University Press, pp. 213-235.
Janik, V 2001, 'Is cetacean social learning unique?' Behavioral and Brain Sciences, vol 24, pp. 337-338.
Janik, V & Rey, S Testing the perception of bottlenose dolphin signature whistle variations using a habituation-dishabituation paradigm..
Van Parijs, S, Janik, V & Thompson, PM 2000, 'Display area size, tenure and site fidelity in the aquatic mating male harbour seal.' Canadian Journal of Zoology, vol 78, pp. 2209-2217.
Janik, VM 2000, 'Whistle matching in wild bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)' Science, vol 289, no. 5483, pp. 1355-1357. DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5483.1355
Janik, V 2000, 'Source levels and the estimated active space of bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) whistles in the Moray Firth, Scotland' Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology, vol 186, pp. 673-680.
Janik, V & Slater, PJB 2000, 'The different roles of social learning in vocal communication' Animal Behaviour, vol 60, pp. 1-11.
Janik, V 2000, 'Food-related bray calls in wild bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)' Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences, vol 267, pp. 923-927.
Janik, V, Van Parijs, S & Thompson, PM 2000, 'A two-dimensional acoustic localization system for marine mammals.' Marine Mammal Science, vol 16, pp. 437-447.
Janik, V 1999, 'Pitfalls in the categorization of behaviour: a comparison of dolphin whistle classification methods' Animal Behaviour, vol 57, pp. 133-143.
Janik, V 1999, Origins and implications of vocal learning in bottlenose dolphins. in HO Box & KR Gibson (eds), Mammalian Social Learning: Comparative and Ecological Perspectives. Cambridge University Press, pp. 308-326.
Janik, V & Slater, PJB 1998, 'Context-specific use suggests that bottlenose dolphin signature whistles are cohesion calls' Animal Behaviour, vol 56, pp. 829-838.
Janik, V & Slater, PJB 1997, 'Vocal learning in mammals' Advances in the Study of Behavior, vol 26, pp. 59-99. DOI: 10.1016/S0065-3454(08)60377-0
Janik, V & Thompson, PM 1996, 'Changes in surfacing patterns of bottlenose dolphins in response to boat traffic' Marine Mammal Science, vol 12, pp. 597-602.
Janik, V, Dehnhardt, G & Todt, D 1994, 'Signature whistle variations in a bottlenosed dolphin, Tursiops truncatus' Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, vol 35, pp. 243-248.
Roshani, A, Todt, D, Janik, V & Hultsch, H 1994, Yawning in male barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus). in JJ Roeder, B Thierry, JR Anderson & N Herrenschmidt (eds), Current primatology, Vol. II, Social development, learning, and behaviour. Universite Louis Pasteur, pp. 81-86.

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