[MARMAM] New publication on temporal patterns in Otariid mother-pup communication

Anna Osiecka ann.osiecka at gmail.com
Sat Jul 23 07:21:20 PDT 2022

Dear all,

My co-autors and me are happy to share our newest work, "Temporal patterns
in Cape fur seal (*Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus*) mother and pup
attraction calls". Please find the abstract and link to full text below.

Anna N Osiecka

Vocal recognition is widespread in the animal kingdom, and a necessary tool
for offspring survival in some groups. Temporal patterns of animal
vocalisations can facilitate communication and convey information such as
identity, emotional state, or motivation of the caller. While pinniped
(i.e., walrus, eared and true seals) vocalisations are generally well
studied, and captive pinnipeds show strong timing abilities, little is
known about the temporal structure of their calls in the wild. Here, we
followed Cape fur seals (*Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus*) during
spontaneous search efforts at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. To
investigate the temporal and rhythmic patterning of Cape fur seal
attraction calls, we analysed call bouts of 80 mothers and 148 pups. We
assessed the relative vocal efforts undertaken by mothers and pups by
calculating calling rates, inter-call intervals (periods of silence between
vocalisations), and the total time spent calling per bout. To explore the
rhythmic structure of the calls, we visualised their temporal patterns by
plotting the calling events and frequency histograms of the
inter-onset-intervals between each two consecutive vocalisations in a bout.
A normalized Pairwise Variability Index was calculated for each individual
to investigate underlying patterns and compared between mothers and pups.
Pups produced more calls per search, vocalised at higher rates, and took
shorter breaks between consecutive vocalisations than females. Even though
female vocalisations were much longer, there was no significant difference
in the total time females and pups spent vocalising per bout. All animals
vocalised at seemingly random intervals, with no distinguishable rhythmic
pattern, suggesting that these do not encode identity information during
mother-pup reunions. However, numerical analysis showed a potential
asynchronous patterning within the age classes, possibly used in
anti-masking. Our results indicate that Cape fur seal females and pups
invest their energy differently during a search, and while their total
calling effort is comparable, reunions seem to be driven mostly by the

*Full text available at*:
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