[MARMAM] New publication: Humpback whale adult females and calves balance acoustic contact with vocal crypsis during periods of increased separation

Katherine Indeck katherine.indeck at unb.ca
Wed Feb 9 05:06:18 PST 2022


G'day all,



My co-authors and I are pleased to share our new publication in Ecology and Evolution:



Indeck, K.L., Noad, M.J. & Dunlop, R.A. (2022). Humpback whale adult females and calves balance acoustic contact with vocal crypsis during periods of increased separation. Ecology and Evolution, 12, e8604. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.8604





ABSTRACT

Acoustic communication is important for animals with dependent young, particularly when they are spatially separated. Maternal humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) use acoustic calling to help minimize the risk of separation from their young calves during migration. These pairs also use acoustic crypsis to minimize detection by males. How they balance a restricted active space with the need to maintain acoustic contact during periods of separation is not yet understood. Here, we analyzed movement metrics of tagged adult female-calf pairs during migration to identify two behavioral states, "resting/milling" and "travelling." When travelling, these pairs dived synchronously and exhibited little to no spatial separation. Alternatively, adult females had significantly longer dive durations (p < .01) when resting, and while they spent prolonged times at depth, calves would surface several times independently. This demonstrated that these pairs are frequently separated during periods of rest. We

then determined whether the call rates and acoustic levels of these pairs increased with more frequent separation, finding that both adult females and calves significantly increased their call rates, but not levels, when resting. We also found that adult female-calf pairs have a restricted active space, with less than 15% of calls estimated to be detectable beyond 2 km. However, as with call level, detection distance did not differ significantly between the two behavioral states. In summary, adult female-calf pairs maintain successful communication during periods of separation by calling more

frequently rather than by producing louder calls. This strategy aids in maintaining acoustic contact while simultaneously limiting detectability by conspecifics.





The article is Open Access and is available here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ece3.8604



Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions!



Cheers,

Kate

Katherine Indeck, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow * Biological Sciences
Mobile: (506) 653-7097
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