Faculty: Michael Smotherman2018-08-28T11:28:52+00:00
Michael Smotherman

Michael Smotherman

Associate Professor

Fax: 979-845-2891
Email: msmotherman@bio.tamu.edu

Curriculum Vitae
Smotherman Lab Website

3258 TAMU
Biological Sciences Building West
Room 110

Biological Sciences Building West
Room 107

Joined the Department in 2004

  • A.B., 1989, Occidental College, Biology.
  • M.S., 1992, University of Maine, Zoology.
  • Ph.D., 1998, UCLA, Physiological Science.
  • Postdoctoral research: UCLA.


Faculty of Neuroscience
Texas A&M Institute for Neuroscience (TAMIN)
Faculty of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Evolution and Neurobiology of Biosonar Systems

Our lab studies the ecology, behavior and neurobiology of bats because of their biosonar capabilities, their gregarious social behaviors, and elaborate communication repertoire.  Bat biosonar systems are a good example of how biological systems can offer valuable insights towards improving technologies that help people, so we study how bats are adapted to perform sonar under a wide variety of environmental conditions and social contexts.

Auditory Neuroscience

Echolocation provides an exciting model system for exploring how auditory brain pathways evolved to encode the acoustic environment.  The bat’s auditory system is finely tuned to the sound of their own echoes, producing a dynamic map of the acoustic scene that is updated on a millisecond time scale.  Our neural studies investigate the cortical networks that encode auditory objects based on sonar echoes.  Our behavioral studies of investigate how bats optimize their sonar performance to detect and discriminate targets and obstacles in noisy cluttered environments.  This research has direct relevance to man-made sonar and wireless communications systems.

Graduate student opportunities

Students interested in pursuing auditory neuroscience and the neuroethology of communication are encouraged to apply to our graduate training programs in Biology, Neuroscience or Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Contact Dr. Smotherman directly for more information.

  1. Adams, AM, Davis, K, Smotherman, M. Suppression of emission rates improves sonar performance by flying bats. Sci Rep. 2017;7 :41641. doi: 10.1038/srep41641. PubMed PMID:28139707 PubMed Central PMC5282581.
  2. Stading, BR, Osorio, JE, Velasco-Villa, A, Smotherman, M, Kingstad-Bakke, B, Rocke, TE et al.. Infectivity of attenuated poxvirus vaccine vectors and immunogenicity of a raccoonpox vectored rabies vaccine in the Brazilian Free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis). Vaccine. 2016;34 (44):5352-5358. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2016.08.088. PubMed PMID:27650872 PubMed Central PMC5543807.
  3. Smotherman, M, Knörnschild, M, Smarsh, G, Bohn, K. The origins and diversity of bat songs. J. Comp. Physiol. A Neuroethol. Sens. Neural. Behav. Physiol. 2016;202 (8):535-54. doi: 10.1007/s00359-016-1105-0. PubMed PMID:27350360 .
  4. Fernandez-Lima, FA, Debord, JD, Schweikert, EA, Della-Negra, S, Kellersberger, KA, Smotherman, M et al.. Surface characterization of biological nanodomains using NP-ToF-SIMS. Surf Interface Anal. 2013;45 (1):. doi: 10.1002/sia.4901. PubMed PMID:24163489 PubMed Central PMC3808454.
  5. Jarvis, J, Jackson, W, Smotherman, M. Groups of bats improve sonar efficiency through mutual suppression of pulse emissions. Front Physiol. 2013;4 :140. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2013.00140. PubMed PMID:23781208 PubMed Central PMC3680708.
  6. Tressler, J, Schwartz, C, Wellman, P, Hughes, S, Smotherman, M. Regulation of bat echolocation pulse acoustics by striatal dopamine. J. Exp. Biol. 2011;214 (Pt 19):3238-47. doi: 10.1242/jeb.058149. PubMed PMID:21900471 PubMed Central PMC3168377.
  7. Schwartz, CP, Smotherman, MS. Mapping vocalization-related immediate early gene expression in echolocating bats. Behav. Brain Res. 2011;224 (2):358-68. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2011.06.023. PubMed PMID:21726584 PubMed Central PMC3159747.
  8. Jarvis, J, Bohn, KM, Tressler, J, Smotherman, M. A mechanism for antiphonal echolocation by Free-tailed bats. Anim Behav. 2010;79 (4):787-796. doi: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2010.01.004. PubMed PMID:20419063 PubMed Central PMC2858338.
  9. Bohn, KM, Schmidt-French, B, Schwartz, C, Smotherman, M, Pollak, GD. Versatility and stereotypy of free-tailed bat songs. PLoS ONE. 2009;4 (8):e6746. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006746. PubMed PMID:19707550 PubMed Central PMC2727915.
  10. Bohn, KM, Smarsh, GS, and M. Smotherman (2013) Social Context Evokes Rapid Changes in Bat Song Syntax. Animal Behaviour, 85:1485-1491.
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