Princeton University Library Catalog

SIGNATURE WHISTLE MODELS IN BOTTLENOSE DOLPHINS, TURSIOPS TRUNCATUS

Author/​Artist:
Thean, Tara [Browse]
Format:
Senior thesis
Language:
English
Advisor(s):
Gould, James [Browse]
Department:
Princeton University. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology [Browse]
Class year:
2013
Description:
133 pages
Restrictions note:
This content is embargoed until October 8, 2088. For more information contact the Mudd Manuscript Library.
Summary note:
Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) develop signature whistles to convey identity information and maintain group cohesion. These animals are thought to be capable of vocal learning: they may incorporate whistle modulation patterns from community members into their own. It is unclear which members free-ranging calves use as models, however, and whether those members differ between wild and captive dolphins. Using 69 wild calves recorded in Florida between 1984 and 2012, I sought to identify a relationship between the strength of a calf's association with other dolphins during its development, and the similarity between their whistles. We found a significant correlation between the similarity of only the males' whistles to those of their associates (p < 0.05, n=32, 1428 comparisons). This correlation was not particularly strong, however (r = 0.027), suggesting that the positive correlation between association and whistle similarity for male dolphins is small. Meanwhile, a greater proportion of captive dolphins develop whistles very similar to those of their close associates than do free-ranging dolphins. These results suggest that wild and captive dolphins have different rules in signature whistle development, possibly governed by social group composition.