Whales be taught songs from one another in a cultural ‘deep dive’

A College of Queensland-led research has discovered humpback whales can be taught extremely complicated songs from whales from different areas.

Dr Jenny Allen, whose doctoral work at UQ’s College of Veterinary Science led to the research, mentioned researchers discovered New Caledonian humpback whales might be taught songs from their counterparts from Australia’s east coast with exceptional accuracy.

“This actually signifies a degree of ‘cultural transmission’ past any noticed non-human species,” Dr Allen mentioned.

The research appeared intently on the track patterns of male humpback whales from every area between 2009 and 2015, to look at how tradition transmits between the populations.

Dr Allen mentioned the complexity of the songs was decided by measuring each the variety of sounds the whales made and the size of the sound patterns.

“By listening to the Australian humpback inhabitants, we had been in a position to see if the songs modified in any means when sung by the New Caledonian whales,” Dr Allen mentioned.

“We discovered they really realized the precise sounds, with out simplifying or leaving something out.

“And every year we noticed them they sang a distinct track, so it means humpback whales can be taught a complete track sample from one other inhabitants in a short time, even when it is complicated or tough.”

The findings assist the concept that songs are being realized by whales on shared migration routes like New Zealand or shared feeding grounds like Antarctica.

“It is uncommon for this diploma of cultural trade to be documented on such a big scale in a non-human species,” Dr Allen mentioned.

“We hope these findings present a mannequin for additional research into understanding the evolution of cultural communication in animals and people.”

Whereas humpback whales have not too long ago been taken off the endangered species record, Dr Allen mentioned their populations nonetheless must be fastidiously managed, and these findings might assist.

“Having an in-depth understanding of a species is understood to tremendously enhance the efficacy of conservation and administration strategies,” Dr Allen mentioned.

“We now have a extra holistic image of the behaviours, actions and interactions of various humpback whale populations, together with how they transmit tradition.

“It means we’re higher outfitted to guard them towards the various threats they face as our local weather, and planet, proceed to vary.”

The analysis is a collaboration with Opération Cétacés from New Caledonia and has been revealed in Scientific Experiences.

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Materials supplied by University of Queensland. Notice: Content material could also be edited for fashion and size.

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