Líffræðifélag Íslands - biologia.is
Líffræðiráðstefnan 2017

Erindi/veggspjald / Talk/poster E15

The importance of a subarctic feeding ground for humpback whale song transmission to subtropical breeding grounds in the North Atlantic Ocean

Höfundar / Authors: Edda E. Magnúsdóttir (1), Ellen C. Garland (3), Patrick J. O. Miller (3), Conor Ryan (4,5,6), Shane T. Gero (7), Marianne H. Rasmussen (1), Jörundur Svavarsson (2)

Starfsvettvangur / Affiliations: 1. The University of Iceland’s Research Center in Húsavík, 640 Húsavík, Iceland, 2. Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Iceland, 101 Reykjavík, Icelandm 3. Sea Mammal Research Unit, Scottish Oceans Institute, University of Saint Andrews, Saint Andrews, Fife KY16 8LB, UK, 4. Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Dublin Road, Galway, Ireland, 5. Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, Merchant's Quay, Kilrush, Co. Clare, Ireland, 6. R/V Song of the Whale, Marine Conservation Research, 94 High Street, Kelvedon, Essex, CO5 9AA, United Kingdom, 7. Department of Zoophysiology, Institute of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark

Kynnir / Presenter: Edda Elísabet Magnúsdóttir

The cyclically-repeated song of the male humpback whale is an important social display on their breeding grounds, functioning in male-male interactions and/or as a reproductive display to attract females. Either way, these songs, containing phrases repeated within sequential themes, ultimately influence the reproductive success of the singers. Humpback whales are capable of song copying and innovation, which results in continual song evolution and horizontal transmission between individuals. The song transmission is important for vocal convergence within a population, and for sharing song components with other breeding populations within the same ocean basin. Here, we present evidence of cultural transmission of songs between a subarctic feeding ground (Iceland) and two subtropical breeding grounds (Cape Verde Islands and Lesser Antilles) in the North Atlantic. Recordings of humpback song from these locations were decomposed to the phrase level. Utilising Markov matrices and similarity analyses (Levensthein distance, Levenshtein distance similarity index and Dice’s Similarity Index), the level of song exchange between Iceland, the Cape Verde Islands and the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean from 2011-2012 was quantified. Songs recorded in 2011 on the Icelandic feeding ground and at the same time on the Cape Verde breeding ground formed a single song cluster, demonstrating pronounced song similarity. Songs recorded in the Cape Verde and the Caribbean the following year (2012) formed different song clusters but shared 53% of themes with each other. Sharing of themes between years was also evident indicating that the song evolved. Results clearly suggest that songs are transmitted between individuals on the joint Icelandic sub-arctic feeding ground, producing a similar pattern to the North Pacific. This highlights the importance of Iceland as an area for song exchange in the North Atlantic.