Five members of a mixed-sex group of bottlenose dolphins share a stereotyped whistle contour in addition to maintaining their individually distinctive signature whistles

TitleFive members of a mixed-sex group of bottlenose dolphins share a stereotyped whistle contour in addition to maintaining their individually distinctive signature whistles
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsJones, Brittany L., Daniels Risa, Tufano Samantha, and Ridgway Sam
JournalPLOS ONE
Volume15
Paginatione0233658
EndNote Rec Number13084
Abstract

Most commonly, animal communication systems are driven by shared call repertoires, with some individual distinctiveness encoded as a byproduct of voice cues. We provide evidence that bottlenose dolphins produce both individually distinctive whistles, and a shared whistle type. A stereotyped whistle contour (termed the group whistle) is shared by five bottlenose dolphins that have lived, worked, and traveled together for at least 21 years. These five dolphins are members of a group of eight dolphins that work as a specialized team for the Navy Marine Mammal Program. Each dolphin is routinely recorded during periods when an individual is isolated from the others in above ground pools as part of their routine training. Each of the eight dolphins has an individually distinctive signature whistle. In addition, at least five of these dolphins share a distinct non-signature whistle type. This shared whistle contour was produced an average of 22.4% +/- 9.0% of the time during periods in which individuals were isolated. During these isolations the signature whistle was produced an average of 42.9% +/- 11.9% of the time. This is consistent with decades of signature whistle research. A group of 10 naïve observers rated the similarity of the different whistle contours. The observers rated the group whistle contour produced by all five dolphins as highly similar (P