Audra Ames, Ph.D.

Animal Behavior & Senses PostDoc Research Associate


Major Research Areas

  • Toothed-whale communication, echolocation, signal production and processing, vocal development, and stereotyped calling.


  • B.A., 2012 Southern Methodist University
  • M.A., 2016 The University of Southern Mississippi
    Thesis: Pre and Post-Partum Whistle Production of a Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops Truncatus) Mother-Calf Dyad
  • Ph.D., 2019 The University of Southern Mississippi
    Thesis: A Study of Beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) Vocal Ontogeny

Professional Activities

  • Board, Marine Mammal Research Network (MMRN)

University Affiliations

Dr. Audra Ames is from Dallas, TX, receiving her undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX) in 2012. In 2013, she began her graduate career in the Marine Mammal Behavior and Cognition Laboratory (The University of Southern Mississippi) under the supervision of Dr. Stan Kuczaj. In Stan’s lab, Audra quickly learned that she was interested in the communication of bottlenose dolphins, later completing her MA study on signature whistle development in a bottlenose dolphin calf (2016). She was then recruited to complete her PhD on vocal development in belugas at Oceanografic, Valencia, Spain. She completed this study in 2019 and remained as a research scientist, based at Oceanografic until 2023 when she joined the Hubbs team. During her time abroad, she became obsessed with all things related to sound and toothed-whales, beginning and continuing projects with species in both the wild and in managed-care facilities. She is currently working on studies concerning bottlenose dolphin signal processing, beluga echolocation, noise impacts on toothed-whale communication signals, and individual specificity in the vocal repertoires of Risso’s dolphins, belugas, and narwhals.

Select Recent Publications

Ames, A. E. (2022). Yawn-Like Behavior in a Beluga Whale (Delphinapterus leucas). Aquatic Mammals, 48(6), 495-500.

Ames, A. E., Blackwell, S.B., Tervo, O.M., & Heide-Jørgensen, M.P. (2021). Evidence of stereotyped contact call use in narwhal (Monodon monoceros) mother-calf communication. PLoS ONE, 16(8): e0254393. doi:

Ames, A. E., Beedholm, K., & Madsen, P. (2020). Lateralization of sound production in the beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas). Journal of Experimental Biology, 223, jeb226316. doi:10.1242/jeb.226316

Ames, A. E. & Vergara, V. (2020). Trajectories of vocal repertoire development in beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) calves: insights from studies a decade apart. Aquatic Mammals, 46(4), 344-366. doi: 10.1578/AM.46.4.2020.344

Ames, A., Macgregor, R., Wielandt, S., Cameron, D., Kuczaj, S., & Hill, H. (2019). Pre- and Post-Partum Whistle Production of a Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) Social Group. International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 32.

Ames, A. E., Zapetis, M. E., Witlicki, K. L., Wielandt, S. J., Cameron, D. M., Walker, R. T., & Kuczaj, S. A. (2017). Thunks: Evidence for varied harmonic structure in an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) sound. International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 30.

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