[MARMAM] New Publication on Humpback Whale Song and Sad News on its Author Dr. Louis M. Herman

Adam Pack pack at hawaii.edu
Sat Nov 12 16:08:44 PST 2016

Aloha Colleagues,

It is my honor to let you know that Dr. Louis M. Herman’s final solo paper
entitled “The multiple functions of male song within the humpback
whale (*Megaptera
novaeangliae*) mating system: review, evaluation, and synthesis,” has just
been published in an on-line early view form in the journal *Biological
Reviews*.  Below, please find the full citation and abstract. To obtain a
pdf of the paper, you can email me at pack at hawaii.edu.

It is also with profound sadness that I must report to you that Dr. Herman
passed away on August 3, 2016.  Dr. Herman was a Professor Emeritus at
University of Hawaii at Manoa, Founder and Director of the world-renowned
Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory, and President of the non-profit
organization, The Dolphin Institute, dedicated to dolphins and whales
through research, education and conservation.  A memorial service for Dr.
Herman was held at Punchbowl National Cemetery in Honolulu on August 26.
Over 100 family members, friends, colleagues and students attended the
service to bid Dr. Herman a final *aloha* and *mahalo*, and to pay their
respects to his wife Hannah and daughter Elia.

Dr. Herman was considered by many in marine mammal science to be a “giant”
in the fields of dolphin cognition and humpback whale behavior.  Together
with his countless graduate students, undergraduates, interns and
colleagues, Dr. Herman helped characterize many aspects of dolphin visual
and auditory sensory perception, mapped out dolphin short-term memory
skills and processes, described a host of dolphin cognitive abilities, and
demonstrated that dolphins could comprehend sentences within acoustically
and visually-based language systems.  Also, in 1976, Dr. Herman pioneered
the scientific study of humpback whales in Hawaiian waters and together
with his students and colleagues created one of the longest continuous
scientific studies of any whale species.  Research carried out both in
Hawaii and Alaska shed new light on humpback whale habitat use, migratory
patterns, social organization, competitive behavior, feeding ecology, and
song.  Across Dr. Herman’s distinguished research career he edited two
books and published over 160 papers on marine mammals.  His discoveries on
dolphins and whales were featured in more than 230 media articles,
television and radio programs, and documentary films.  In 2015, former
students and staff from around the world gathered in Honolulu to celebrate
Dr. Herman’s many accomplishments at a surprise “Festschrift.” An “In
Memoriam” paper on Dr. Herman’s life and numerous scientific contributions
is currently in press in the journal *Marine Mammal Science*.

Dr. Herman’s passing is a tragic loss for his family and friends, for the
scientific community, and for the broader public, many of whom were
introduced to the intelligence of dolphins and the behavior of humpback
whales through media presentations on Dr. Herman’s groundbreaking
discoveries.  After his passing, an article on Dr. Herman’s life and
achievements appeared in the *New York Times* (see
and in numerous other media outlets around the world.

In Dr. Herman’s memory, the Herman family has established the Louis M.
Herman Scholarship Fund to support students engaged in cognitive and
behavioral research of whales or dolphins.  Contributions to the
scholarship fund should be made out to *The Dolphin Institute* and
addressed to The Dolphin Institute, P.O. Box 6279, Hilo, HI  96720,
Attention: Louis M. Herman Scholarship Fund.  For additional information,
please contact Dr. Adam A. Pack at pack at hawaii.edu.

Wishing you all a peaceful and happy holiday season,

Adam A. Pack, Ph.D.
Professor, University of Hawaii at Hilo
Vice President and Director, The Dolphin Institute

Herman, L. M. (2016). The multiple functions of male song within the
humpback whale (*Megaptera novaeangliae*) mating system: review,
evaluation, and synthesis.  *Biological Reviews. *doi: 10.1111/brv.12309


Humpback whales (*Megaptera novaeangliae*) are seasonal breeders, annually
migrating from high-latitude summer feeding grounds to low-latitude winter
breeding grounds. The social matrix on the winter grounds is a loose
network of interacting individuals and groups and notably includes lone
males that produce long bouts of complex song that collectively yield an
asynchronous chorus. Occasionally, a male will sing while accompanying
other whales. Despite a wealth of knowledge about the social matrix, the
full characterization of the mating system remains unresolved, without any
firm consensus, as does the function of song within that system. Here, I
consider and critically analyse three proposed functions of song that have
received the most attention in the literature: female attraction to
individual singers, determining or facilitating male–male interactions, and
attracting females to a male aggregation within the context of a lekking
system. *Female attraction *suggests that humpback song is an advertisement
and invitation to females, but field observations and song playback studies
reveal that female visits to individual singers are virtually absent. Other
observations suggest instead that females might convey their presence to
singers (or to other males) through the percussive sounds of flipper or
tail slapping or possibly through vocalizations. There is some
evidence for *male–male
interactions, both dominance and affiliative*: visits to singers are almost
always other lone males not singing at that time. The joiner may be seeking
a coalition with the singer to engage cooperatively in attempts to obtain
females, or may be seeking to disrupt the song or to affirm his dominance.
Some observations support one or the other intent. However, other
observations, in part based on the brevity of most pairings, suggest that
the joiner is prospecting, seeking to determine whether the singer is
accompanying a female, and if not soon departs. In the *lekking hypothesis*,
the aggregation of vocalizing males on a winter ground and the visits there
by non-maternal females apparently for mating meet the fundamental
definition of a lekking system and its role though communal display in
attracting females to the aggregation, although not to an individual
singer. Communal singing is viewed as a form of by-product mutualism in
which individuals benefit one another as incidental consequences of their
own selfish actions. Possibly, communal singing may also act to stimulate
female receptivity. Thus, there are both limitations and merit in all three
proposals. Full consideration of song as serving multiple functions is
therefore necessary to understand its role in the mating system and the
forces acting on the evolution of song. I suggest that song may be the
prime vector recruiting colonists to new winter grounds pioneered by
vagrant males as population pressures increase or as former winter grounds
become unavailable or undesirable, with such instances documented
relatively recently. Speculatively, song may have evolved historically as
an aggregating call during the dynamic ocean conditions and resulting
habitat uncertainties in the late Miocene–early Pliocene epochs when *Megaptera
*began to proliferate. Early song may have been comprised of simpler
precursor sounds that through natural selection and ritualization evolved
into complex song.

Adam A. Pack, Ph.D. Professor and Chair (Psychology)
Departments of Psychology and Biology
University of Hawai'i at Hilo
200 West Kawili Street
Hilo, Hawai'i 96720
(Office Voice): 808-932-7076
(Email): pack at hawaii.edu

"Do or do not; there is no try." Yoda
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