[MARMAM] New paper on humpback song and singers

Louis Herman lherman at hawaii.edu
Sat Jul 6 20:03:50 PDT 2013

>We are pleased to announce the publication of a new paper on 
>humpback whale song. The paper is available as an Online First 
>Article (prior to the print version) in the July 2013 issue of 
>Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, and a PDF may be downloaded 
>from Springer Direct if you or your institution has access.  I will 
>post a second notice when the print version appears with 
>instructions as to how to obtain a PDF of that. You may contact me 
>for further information.
>Humpback whale song: who sings?  Herman, L. M., Pack. A. A., Spitz, 
>S. S., Herman, E. Y. K., Rose, K., Hakala, S. & Deakos, M. H.  2013. 
>Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 67 (3 July 2013) DOI 
>While on their winter breeding grounds, male humpback whales 
>(Megaptera novaeangliae) produce long sequences of structured 
>vocalizations called song, whose function within the mating system 
>is still unresolved. Here we ask which males sing. Is it only those 
>sexually mature, as typifies songbirds and some lekking ungulates in 
>which vocalizations during the rut are restricted to mature males? 
>Or do immature males join in the chorus? Using an underwater 
>videogrammetric technique, we measured the body lengths of 87 
>humpback singers in the Hawaiian winter grounds. Applying length and 
>sexual maturity relationships for North Pacific humpbacks as 
>determined by biologists aboard twentieth century Japanese whaling 
>vessels, we found that singer lengths ranged from 10.7 to 13.6 m, 
>with 15 % of lengths indicative of probable sexual immaturity 
>(length<11.3 m, p [maturity]<0.5). We interpret this broad 
>participation of males as a lekking aggregation and the asynchronous 
>singing chorus as an instance of by-product mutualism. The 
>participation of many singers yields a heightened signal level that 
>may attract more females to the singing area. Sexually mature males 
>can benefit through access to more females. Immature males may gain 
>deferred benefits through increased opportunities to learn and 
>practice the social, behavioral, and acoustical skills and 
>conventions of the winter grounds that they can apply usefully in 
>later years.
>Lou Herman
>lherman at hawaii.edu
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