[MARMAM] New Paper: Signature Whistle Copying in Bottlenose Dolphins

stephanie king s.l_king at yahoo.co.uk
Wed Feb 20 13:40:15 PST 2013

Dear All

We are pleased to announce a new 
publication on Signature Whistle Copying in Bottlenose Dolphins which is
 published online with open access in Proceedings of the Royal Society 
B,  click here to get to the article; http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/280/1757/20130053

Citation: King, S.L., Sayigh, L.S., Wells, R.S, Fellner, W.,  and Janik,
 V.M. 2013. Vocal copying of individually distinctive signature whistles
 in bottlenose dolphins. Proc. R. Soc. B. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.0053. 


Vocal learning is relatively common in 
birds but less so in mammals. Sexual selection and individual or group 
recognition have been identified as major forces in its 
evolution. While important in the development of vocal displays, vocal 
learning also allows signal copying in social interactions. 
Such copying can function in addressing or labelling selected 
conspecifics. Most examples of addressing in non-humans come from bird song, where matching occurs in an aggressive context. However, in other animals, addressing with learned signals is 
very much an affiliative signal. We studied the function of vocal 
copying in a mammal that shows vocal learning as well as 
complex cognitive and social behaviour, the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). Copying occurred almost exclusively between close associates such as 
mother–calf pairs and male alliances during separation and was not followed by aggression. All copies were clearly recognizable as such because copiers consistently modified some acoustic parameters of a signal when copying it. We found no evidence for the use of copying in aggression or deception. 
This use of vocal copying is similar to its use in human language, where the maintenance of social bonds appears to be more 
important than the immediate defence of resources. 



Dr. Stephanie L. King
Sea Mammal Research Unit
Scottish Oceans Institute
University of St Andrews
East Sands
St Andrews
KY16 8LB
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