Physical constraints of cultural evolution of dialects in killer whales

Olga A. Filatova, Filipa I. P. Samarra, Lance G. Barrett-Lennard, Patrick J. O. Miller, John K. B. Ford, Harald Yurk, Craig O. Matkin, Erich Hoyt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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Odontocete sounds are produced by two pairs of phonic lips situated in soft nares below the blowhole; the right pair is larger and is more likely to produce clicks, while the left pair is more likely to produce whistles. This has important implications for the cultural evolution of delphinid sounds: the greater the physical constraints, the greater the probability of random convergence. In this paper the authors examine the call structure of eight killer whale populations to identify structural constraints and to determine if they are consistent among all populations. Constraints were especially pronounced in two-voiced calls. In the calls of all eight populations, the lower component of two-voiced (biphonic) calls was typically centered below 4 kHz, while the upper component was typically above that value. The lower component of two-voiced calls had a narrower frequency range than single-voiced calls in all populations. This may be because some single-voiced calls are homologous to the lower component, while others are homologous to the higher component of two-voiced calls. Physical constraints on the call structure reduce the possible variation and increase the probability of random convergence, producing similar calls in different populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3755-3764
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2016


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