Social Communication In Sperm Whale Dyads

Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2008 10:20:54 -0000
From: “Luke Rendell”

The following paper is now available online at Animal Behaviour; full text is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2008.07.032, or by emailing me (ler4@st-andrews.ac.uk):

Overlapping and matching of codas in vocal interactions between sperm whales: insights into communication function
Tyler M. Schulz, Hal Whitehead, Shane Gero & Luke Rendell

Abstract:
Many animals engage in dyadic vocal exchanges. Studying the patterns of vocal output and spatial arrangement of individuals in these interactions can often reveal information concerning their function. Sperm whales, Physeter macrocephalus, frequently exchange short sequences of clicks, termed codas, in social contexts. We analysed the coda vocalizations of sperm whale social units encountered in two different oceans to test hypotheses about how coda exchanges are organized. We also used a dynamic recording array to estimate the spatial scale of these vocal interactions. Coda production was influenced by the timing and types of codas produced by other unit members, resulting in the production of duet-like sequences of coda exchanges between pairs of whales. Codas were more likely to be made within 2 s of another coda than expected by chance, and whales were more likely to match previously produced codas than expected by chance, although matching appeared to be largely a result of the matching of one particular coda type within each social unit. Patterns of overlapping and matching exchanges did not seem to be correlated with relatedness or social affiliation. These exchanges occurred over a range of spatial scales, and are thus likely to be functional both between whales that are near and between those that are comparatively far from one another. The context of these exchanges, reciprocity in coda overlapping, and the sequencing of exchanges into duet-like chains all suggest that coda overlapping and matching function to reinforce social bonds between whales.
– Dr. Luke Rendell Post-Doctoral Research Fellow Tel: (44)(0)1334 463499 E-mail: ler4@st-andrews.ac.uk WWW: http://bio.st-andrews.ac.uk/staff/ler4.htm School of Biology, University of St. Andrews Bute Medical Building, Queen’s Terrace St. Andrews, Fife KY16 9TS U.K. Social Learning Strategies Tournament – 10,000 Euro prize: http://www.intercult.su.se/cultaptation/tournament.php The University of St Andrews is a charity registered in Scotland : No SC013532

One Comment

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