[MARMAM] New publication on signature whistles in wild bottlenose dolphins (T. truncatus)

Hannah Kriesell h.kriesell at gmx.de
Sun Sep 14 04:52:30 PDT 2014

Dear colleagues,

we are pleased to announce the publication of our recent paper:

Kriesell HJ, Elwen SH, Nastasi A, Gridley T (2014): _Identification and 
Characteristics of Signature Whistles in Wild Bottlenose Dolphins 
(/Tursiops truncatus/__) from Namibia_. PLoS ONE 9(9): e106317. 

A signature whistle type is a learned, individually distinctive whistle 
type in a dolphin's acoustic repertoire that broadcasts the identity of 
the whistle owner. The acquisition and use of signature whistles 
indicates complex cognitive functioning that requires wider 
investigation in wild dolphin populations. Here we identify signature 
whistle types from a population of approximately 100 wild common 
bottlenose dolphins (/Tursiops truncatus/) inhabiting Walvis Bay, and 
describe signature whistle occurrence, acoustic parameters and temporal 
production. A catalogue of 43 repeatedly emitted whistle types (REWTs) 
was generated by analysing 79 hrs of acoustic recordings. From this, 28 
signature whistle types were identified using a method based on the 
temporal patterns in whistle sequences. A visual classification task 
conducted by 5 naïve judges showed high levels of agreement in 
classification of whistles (Fleiss-Kappa statistic, ? = 0.848,/Z/= 
55.3,/P/<0.001) and supported our categorisation. Signature whistle 
structure remained stable over time and location, with most types (82%) 
recorded in 2 or more years, and 4 identified at Walvis Bay and a second 
field site approximately 450 km away. Whistle acoustic parameters were 
consistent with those of signature whistles documented in Sarasota Bay 
(Florida, USA). We provide evidence of possible two-voice signature 
whistle production by a common bottlenose dolphin. Although signature 
whistle types have potential use as a marker for studying individual 
habitat use, we only identified approximately 28% of those from the 
Walvis Bay population, despite considerable recording effort. We found 
that signature whistle type diversity was higher in larger dolphin 
groups and groups with calves present. This is the first study 
describing signature whistles in a wild free-ranging/T. 
truncatus/population inhabiting African waters and it provides a 
baseline on which more in depth behavioural studies can be based.

You can access the paper here 
or contact h.kriesell at gmx.de or nam.dolphin.project at gmail.com for a PDF 

Best wishes

Hannah Kriesell

/Master of International Nature Conservation (M.Sc./M.I.N.C.)

/Namibian Dolphin Project
E-Mail: h.kriesell at gmx.de
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