One of the most studied aspects of animal communication is the acoustic repertoire difference between populations of the same species. While numerous studies have investigated the variability of bottlenose dolphin whistles between populations, very few studies have focused on the signature whistles alone and the factors underlying differentiation of signature whistles are still poorly understood. Here we describe the signature whistles produced by six distinct geographical units of the common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) in the Mediterranean Sea and identify the main determinants of their variability. Particularly, the influence of the region (proxy of genetic distance), the geographic site, and the environmental (sea bottom-related) and demographical (population-related) conditions on the acoustic structure of signature whistles was evaluated. The study provides the first evidence that the genetic structure, which distinguishes the eastern and western Mediterranean bottlenose dolphin populations has no strong influence on the acoustic structure of their signature whistles, and that the geographical isolation between populations only partially affected whistle variability. The environmental conditions of the areas where the whistles developed and the demographic characteristics of the belonging populations strongly influenced signature whistles, in accordance with the "acoustic adaptation hypothesis" and the theory of signature whistle determination mediated by learning.

Determinants of variability in signature whistles of the Mediterranean common bottlenose dolphin

Pavan, Gianni
Methodology
;
2022-01-01

Abstract

One of the most studied aspects of animal communication is the acoustic repertoire difference between populations of the same species. While numerous studies have investigated the variability of bottlenose dolphin whistles between populations, very few studies have focused on the signature whistles alone and the factors underlying differentiation of signature whistles are still poorly understood. Here we describe the signature whistles produced by six distinct geographical units of the common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) in the Mediterranean Sea and identify the main determinants of their variability. Particularly, the influence of the region (proxy of genetic distance), the geographic site, and the environmental (sea bottom-related) and demographical (population-related) conditions on the acoustic structure of signature whistles was evaluated. The study provides the first evidence that the genetic structure, which distinguishes the eastern and western Mediterranean bottlenose dolphin populations has no strong influence on the acoustic structure of their signature whistles, and that the geographical isolation between populations only partially affected whistle variability. The environmental conditions of the areas where the whistles developed and the demographic characteristics of the belonging populations strongly influenced signature whistles, in accordance with the "acoustic adaptation hypothesis" and the theory of signature whistle determination mediated by learning.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11571/1476257
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