University of St Andrews
 
 
Sea Mammal Research Unit

SMRU News Centre

item 912
[08-03-2012 to 31-12-2012]


News Item:
How You Doin': Dolphins Use Whistles to Say Hello

What does a dolphin say when it crosses oceanic paths with other dolphins? Hello, of course, followed by a formal introduction that’s relayed through a high-pitched “signature whistle.” Marine biologists from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland have long been studying dolphin’s cacophonous communication style — including a series of clicks, pulses and whistles — while the animal is in captivity. But until recently, they questioned how the signature whistles were used in the wild.

Now, they have an answer. The researchers used underwater microphones to follow pods of bottlenose dolphins in St. Andrews Bay. After weeding out some of the other sounds the animals make, they were able to determine that dolphins utilize their “signature whistles” when meeting up with other pods of dolphins — much like a catchphrase. Think, “Hey, how’s it going?” but in whistle form.

“It’s not just ‘I’m so-and-so,’ but the other information also in that whistle is, ‘I’m so-and-so, and I’m interested in making contact in a friendly way, I’m not attacking,’” Vincent Janik, one of the study’s researchers. “What I found really rewarding is to be out there and see how they communicate amongst themselves,” Janik said. “These are wild groups that are just doing whatever they’re doing. It’s really the first time that we can pinpoint down two individual groups and how they interact in a vocal domain, which is really cool.”

see here for further details
contact: Dr Vincent Janik


 

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  • “Biodiversity lessons from the Amazon River Basin: A two-part fish story”
    speaker: Prof Carlos E. C. Freitas and Prof Lawrence E. Hurd (Federal University of Amazonas and Washington & Lee University)

    building: SOI
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    Carlos E. C. Freitas is a full professor at the Federal University of Amazonas and a visiting professor at Washington & Lee University.  He is a freshwater biologist and his main research area includes fish ecology, population dynamics and inland fisheries.  He is the head of several research projects supported by Brazilian agencies and has published papers in journals such as Ecological Modeling, Hydrobiologia, Ecology of Freshwater Fish, Ecological Engineering, and Fisheries Management and Ecology

     

    Lawrence E. Hurd is the Herwick Professor of Biology at Washington & Lee University.  He is an ecologist, with primary research interests in the role of apex predators in arthropod assemblages of terrestrial ecosystems, and in the structure and dynamics of tropical fish assemblages in the Amazon River Basin of Brazil.  He has published in journals such as Science, Ecology, J. Animal Ecology, Oecologia, and Environmental Entomology.

     

    Also visiting with Profs Reitas and Hurd is Flavia K. Siqueira-Souza who is an associate professor at the Federal University of Amazonas.  She is a freshwater biologist and her primary research field is fish ecology aiming to understand the key factors structuring fish assemblages in Amazonian aquatic environments.  She has published papers on this subject in journals such as Hydrobiologia and Ecology of Freshwater Fish.

     

    There will be an opportunity after the lecture for anyone interested in an interactive discussion with Prof Hurd and his colleagues.  Depending on numbers, this will take place in either the Laverack or Seminar Room.


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