[MARMAM] Abstract - Overlapping and matching in sperm whale codas

Luke Rendell ler4 at st-andrews.ac.uk
Tue Oct 28 03:20:54 PDT 2008


Folks,

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 at 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 at 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.

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