[MARMAM] Vocal learning in juvenile male killer whales

Ann E. Bowles abowles at hswri.com
Thu Apr 17 16:22:59 PDT 2014

We are pleased to announce the publication of the following article:

  Crance, J.L., A.E. Bowles and A. Garver. 2014. 
Evidence for vocal learning in juvenile male killer whales,
Orcinus orca, from an adventitious 
cross-socializing experiment. The Journal of 
Experimental Biology 217:1229-1237 (doi:10.1242/jeb.094300).



Killer whales (Orcinus orca) are thought to learn their vocal dialect.
Dispersal in the species is rare, but effects of shifts in social
association on the dialect can be studied under controlled conditions.
Individual call repertoires and social association were measured in
three adult female killer whales and three males (two juveniles and
an adult) during two periods, 2001–2003 and 2005–2006. Three
distinct dialect repertoires were represented among the subjects. An
adventitious experiment in social change resulted from the birth of a
calf and the transfer of two non-focal subjects in 2004. Across the two
periods, 1691 calls were collected, categorized and attributed to
individuals. Repertoire overlap for each subject dyad was compared
with an index of association. During 2005–2006, the two juvenile
males increased association with the unrelated adult male. By the
end of the period, both had begun producing novel calls and call
features characteristic of his repertoire. However, there was little or
no reciprocal change and the adult females did not acquire his calls.
Repertoire overlap and association were significantly correlated in the
first period. In the second, median association time and repertoire
similarity increased, but the relationship was only marginally
significant. The results provided evidence that juvenile male killer
whales are capable of learning new call types, possibly stimulated by
a change in social association. The pattern of learning was consistent
with a selective convergence of male repertoires.

Ann E. Bowles, PhD
Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute
<mailto:abowles at hswri.org>abowles at hswri.org

Ann E. Bowles, PhD | Program Leader, Bioacoustics
Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute
2595 Ingraham Street  |  San Diego  |  CA 92109
Phone: (619) 226-3870  |  Fax: (619) 226-3944
<mailto:abowles at hswri.org>abowles at hswri.org | www.hswri.org

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