Preliminary evidence for signature vocalizations among free-ranging narwhals (Monodon monoceros)
Shapiro, Ari D.
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Animal signature vocalizations that are distinctive at the individual or group level can facilitate recognition between conspecifics and re-establish contact with an animal that has become separated from its associates. In this study, the vocal behavior of two free-ranging adult male narwhals (Monodon monoceros) in Admiralty Inlet, Baffin Island was recorded using digital archival tags. These recording instruments were deployed when the animals were caught and held onshore to attach satellite tags, a protocol that separated them from their groups. The signature content of two vocal categories was considered: (1) combined tonal/pulsed signals, which contained synchronous pulsatile and tonal content; (2) whistles, or frequency modulated tonal signals with harmonic energy. Nonparametric comparisons of the temporal and spectral features of each vocal class revealed significant differences between the two individuals. A separate, cross-correlation measure conducted on the whistles that accounted for overall contour shape and absolute frequency content confirmed greater interindividual compared to intraindividual differences. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that narwhals produce signature vocalizations that may facilitate their reunion with group members once they become separated, but additional data are required to demonstrate this claim more rigorously.
Author Posting. © Acoustical Society of America, 2006. This article is posted here by permission of Acoustical Society of America for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 120 (2006): 1695-1705, doi:10.1121/1.2226586.