Analysis of humpback whale song from the Eastern Caribbean

Nikšić, Sara (2014) Analysis of humpback whale song from the Eastern Caribbean. Diploma thesis, Faculty of Science > Department of Biology.

Language: English

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Male humpback whales produce hierarchically structured and complex songs. These songs are learned, and are constantly changing at both evolutionary and revolutionary tempos through horizontal cultural transmission processes. Populations within the same ocean basin share similarities in their song displays, whereas geographically distinct populations have completely different songs. However, fine-scale analyses of variation in song production within and between individuals are sparse, but essential for understanding the details of how individual song learning can produce the population level cultural changes that have been observed since the 1970s. In this study, songs of humpback whales from the North Atlantic and South Pacific Ocean were analysed. An automated method for song unit classification was tested, against classification by a human observer, and the latter proved more effective. All songs were divided into unit, phrase and theme sequences which were then compared using the Levenshtein distance metric. The results showed that songs from North Atlantic shared a significant portion of their material, and that the Australian song had no similarity at phrase and theme level with any of the North Atlantic songs. This study provides evidence of horizontal cultural transmission of humpback whale songs within the same ocean basin that does not occur with a wider geographical separation.

Item Type: Thesis (Diploma thesis)
Keywords: whale song, cultural transmission, vocal communication, Levenshtein distance
Supervisor: Rendell, Luke
Co-supervisor: Maguire, Ivana
Date: 2014
Number of Pages: 34
Subjects: NATURAL SCIENCES > Biology
Divisions: Faculty of Science > Department of Biology
Depositing User: Silvana Šehić
Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2014 13:46
Last Modified: 12 Nov 2014 13:46

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