[MARMAM] New publication on maternal signature whistle use in bottlenose dolphins

Kelly Jaakkola kelly at dolphins.org
Wed Mar 23 08:11:21 PDT 2016

Dear all,

We are pleased to announce our new publication:

King, S. L., Guarino, E., Keaton, L., Erb, L., & Jaakkola, K. (2016). 
Maternal signature whistle use aids mother-calf reunions in a bottlenose 
dolphin, /Tursiops truncatus/. /Behavioural Processes, 126/, 64-70. 


Individual vocal signatures play an important role in parent-offspring 
recognition in many animals. One species that uses signature calls to 
accurately facilitate individual recognition is the bottlenose dolphin. 
Female dolphins and their calves will use their highly individualised 
signature whistles to identify and maintain contact with one another. 
Previous studies have shown high signature whistle rates of both mothers 
and calves during forced separations. In more natural settings, it 
appears that the calf vocalises more frequently to initiate reunions 
with its mother. However, little is known about the mechanisms a female 
dolphin may employ when there is strong motivation for her to reunite 
with her calf. In this study, we conducted a series of experimental 
trials in which we asked a female dolphin to retrieve either her 
wandering calf or a series of inanimate objects (control). Our results 
show that she used her vocal signature to actively recruit her calf, and 
produced no such signal when asked to retrieve the objects. This is the 
first study to clearly manipulate a dolphin’s motivation to retrieve her 
calf with experimental controls. The results highlight that signature 
whistles are not only used in broadcasting individual identity, but that 
maternal signature whistle use is important in facilitating mother-calf 

You can access the paper here -- 

Or alternatively you can email us directly for a copy 
(stephanie.king at uwa.edu.au or kelly at dolphins.org)

-- Kelly

Dr. Kelly Jaakkola
Dolphin Research Center
58901 Overseas Hwy.
Grassy Key, FL 33050

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