Nonlinear phenomena in the vocalizations of North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) and killer whales (Orcinus orca)

R. B. Tyson, D. P. Nowacek, Patrick Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Nonlinear phenomena or nonlinearities in animal vocalizations include features such as subharmonics, deterministic chaos, biphonation, and frequency jumps that until recently were Generally ignored in acoustic analyses. Recent documentation of these phenomena in several species suggests that they may play a communicative role, though the exact function is still under investigation. Here, qualitative descriptions and quantitative analyses of nonlinearities in the vocalizations of killer whales (Orcinus orca) and North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) are provided. All four nonlinear features were present in both species, with at least one feature occurring in 92.4% of killer and 65.7% of right whale vocalizations analyzed. Occurrence of biphonation varied the most between species, being present in 89.0% of killer whale vocalizations and only 20.4% of right whale vocalizations. Because deterministic chaos is qualitatively and quantitatively different than random or Gaussian noise, a program (TISEANO) designed specifically to identify deterministic chaos to confirm the presence of this nonlinearity was used. All segments tested in this software indicate that both species do indeed exhibit deterministic chaos. The results of this study provide confirmation that such features are common in the vocalizations of cetacean species and lay the groundwork for future studies. (c) 2007 Acoustical Society of America.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1365-1373
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2007




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