What’s in a voice? Dolphins do not use voice cues for individual recognition
MetadataShow full item record
Most mammals can accomplish acoustic recognition of other individuals by means of “voice cues,” whereby characteristics of the vocal tract render vocalizations of an individual uniquely identifiable. However, sound production in dolphins takes place in gas-filled nasal sacs that are affected by pressure changes, potentially resulting in a lack of reliable voice cues. It is well known that bottlenose dolphins learn to produce individually distinctive signature whistles for individual recognition, but it is not known whether they may also use voice cues. To investigate this question, we played back non-signature whistles to wild dolphins during brief capture-release events in Sarasota Bay, Florida. We hypothesized that non-signature whistles, which have varied contours that can be shared among individuals, would be recognizable to dolphins only if they contained voice cues. Following established methodology used in two previous sets of playback experiments, we found that dolphins did not respond differentially to non-signature whistles of close relatives versus known unrelated individuals. In contrast, our previous studies showed that in an identical context, dolphins reacted strongly to hearing the signature whistle or even a synthetic version of the signature whistle of a close relative. Thus, we conclude that dolphins likely do not use voice cues to identify individuals. The low reliability of voice cues and the need for individual recognition were likely strong selective forces in the evolution of vocal learning in dolphins.
© The Author(s), 2017. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Animal Cognition 20 (2017): 1067–1079, doi:10.1007/s10071-017-1123-5.
Suggested CitationArticle: Sayigh, Laela S., Wells, Randall S., Janik, Vincent M., "What’s in a voice? Dolphins do not use voice cues for individual recognition", Animal Cognition 20 (2017): 1067–1079, DOI:10.1007/s10071-017-1123-5, https://hdl.handle.net/1912/9337
The following license files are associated with this item:
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
King, Stephanie L.; Sayigh, Laela S.; Wells, Randall S.; Fellner, Wendi; Janik, Vincent M. (The Royal Society, 2013-02-20)Vocal learning is relatively common in birds but less so in mammals. Sexual selection and individual or group recognition have been identified as major forces in its evolution. While important in the development of vocal ...
The encoding of individual identity in dolphin signature whistles : how much information is needed? Kershenbaum, Arik; Sayigh, Laela S.; Janik, Vincent M. (Public Library of Science, 2013-10-23)Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) produce many vocalisations, including whistles that are unique to the individual producing them. Such “signature whistles” play a role in individual recognition and maintaining group ...
Kin and population recognition in sympatric Lake Constance perch (Perca fluviatilis L.) : can assortative shoaling drive population divergence? Behrmann-Godel, Jasminca; Gerlach, Gabriele; Eckmann, Reiner (2005-08-02)Prior studies have shown that perch (Perca fluviatilis L.) of Lake Constance belong to two genetically different but sympatric populations, and that local aggregations of juveniles and adults contain closely related kin. ...