[MARMAM] New publication: Using vocal cues to assess arousal state of bottlenose dolphins

Rachel Probert rachelprbrt at gmail.com
Tue Nov 14 07:28:26 PST 2023

Dear MARMAM community,

My co-authors and I are pleased to share our recent publication:

Rachel Probert, Bridget S. James, Simon H. Elwen, Tess Gridley. 2023. Vocal
cues to assess arousal state of bottlenose dolphins (*Tursiops *spp.) involved
in public presentations. Journal of Zoological and Botanical Gardens 4(4):

Emotions in animals may be expressed by arousal and understanding this
often relies upon the monitoring of their behaviour. Under human care,
animals’ arousal states may be linked to husbandry decisions, whereby
animals may display arousal responses to scheduled events such as feeding
and human interaction. Here, we investigate vocal correlates of arousal
associated with public presentations of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops spp.)
in human care by comparing vocal production rates and characteristics
between high and low arousal contexts. Elevated arousal during the day
compared with overnight was characterised by increased signature and
non-signature whistle production. High intensity broadband crack
vocalisations were produced less than whistles during the day and did not
correlate with increased arousal around presentation times. Three of ten
dolphins increased signature whistle production before and/or after
presentation sessions, indicating elevated arousal and variation in
individual responses. Many individuals elevated minimum frequency and
suppressed maximum frequency of signature whistles in a way that correlated
with higher arousal contexts, indicating that these may therefore be good
indicators of changes in arousal state. Overall, our study demonstrates
that passive acoustic monitoring can provide a useful indication of arousal
linked to husbandry decisions, and that individual variation in vocal
responses, likely linked to personality, is important to consider.

All the best,
Rachel Probert
*Rachel Probert*
*PhD candidate, Marine Biology, Bioacoustics*
Sea Search Research and Conservation, Muizenberg, Cape Town
School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville Campus,

Cell: +27767831809

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