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Abstract: Vocal clans in sperm whales

Subject: Abstract: Vocal clans in sperm whales
From: Luke Rendell <>
Date: Fri, 10 Jan 2003 13:39:10 -0800
 The following paper has been published online on the FirstCite 
 service of the Royal Society (available through 
 <a  href=""; 
rel="nofollow"></a>); it is scheduled to appear 
in print
 in February. Anyone unable to access the website can email me
 ([EMAIL PROTECTED]) for a pdf. 
 Title: Vocal clans in sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) 
 Author(s): Rendell and Whitehead  
 Source: Proceedings: Biological Sciences       
 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2002.2239 
 Publisher: The Royal Society  
 Abstract: Cultural transmission may be a significant source of 
 variation in the behaviour of whales and dolphins, especially as
 regards their vocal signals. We studied variation in the vocal output
 of 'codas' by sperm whale social groups. Codas are patterns of clicks
 used by female sperm whales in social circumstances. The coda
 repertoires of all known social units (n = 18, each consisting of
 about 11 females and immatures with long-term relationships) and 61
 out of 64 groups (about two social units moving together for periods
 of days) that were recorded in the South Pacific and Caribbean between
 1985 and 2000 can be reliably allocated into six acoustic 'clans',
 five in the Pacific and one in the Caribbean. Clans have ranges that
 span thousands of kilometres, are sympatric, contain many thousands of
 whales and most probably result from cultural transmission of vocal
 patterns. Units seem to form groups preferentially with other units of
 their own clan. We suggest that this is a rare example of sympatric
 cultural variation on an oceanic scale. Culture may thus be a more
 important determinant of sperm whale population structure than genes
 or geography, a finding that has major implications for our
 understanding of the species' behavioural and population biology.
 ------- End of forwarded message -------
 Luke Rendell
 Dept of Biology
 Dalhousie University
 Halifax, Nova Scotia
 B3H 4J1
 Tel : (902) 494 3723
 WWW : <a  href=""; 

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