Evidence suggests vocal production learning in a cross-fostered Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus)

Livio Favaro, Silvana Neves, Stefano Furlati, Daniela Pessani, Vidal Martin, Vincent M. Janik

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10 Citations (Scopus)
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Vocal learning is a rare skill in mammals, and we have limited information about the contexts in which they use it. Previous studies suggested that cetaceans in general are skilled at imitating sounds, but only few species have been studied to date. To expand this investigation to another species and to investigate the possible influence of the social environment on vocal learning, we studied the whistle repertoire of a female Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus) that was stranded at an early age and was subsequently raised in a group of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). We show that this cross-fostered animal produced vocal signals more akin to those of its Tursiops poolmates than those of Risso’s dolphins in the wild. This is one of very few systematic cross-fostering studies in cetaceans and the first to suggest vocal production learning in the Risso’s dolphin. Our findings also suggest that social experience is a major factor in the development of the vocal repertoire in this species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)847-853
JournalAnimal Cognition
Issue number4
Early online date13 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


  • Bioacoustics
  • Bottlenose dolphin
  • Grampus griseus
  • Risso's dolphin
  • Signature whistles
  • Tursiops truncatus


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