Signature whistles in free ranging populations of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops aduncus

Teresa Gridley, Victor Cockcroft, Elizabeth R. Hawkins, Michelle Lemon Blewitt, Tadamichi Morisaka, Vincent M. Janik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) use individually distinctive signature whistles which are highly stereotyped and function as contact calls. Here we investigate whether Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (T. aduncus) use signature whistles. The frequency trace of whistle contours recorded from three genetically distinct free-ranging populations was extracted and sorted into whistle types of similar shape using automated categorization. A signature whistle identification method based on the temporal patterns in signature whistle sequences of T. truncatus was used to identify signature whistle types (SWTs). We then compared the degree of variability in SWTs for several whistle parameters to determine which parameters are likely to encode identity information. Additional recordings from two temporarily isolated T. aduncus made during natural entrapment events in 2008 and 2009 were analyzed for the occurrence of SWTs. All populations were found to produce SWTs; 34 SWTs were identified from recordings of free-ranging T. aduncus and one SWT was prevalent in each recording of the two temporarily isolated individuals. Of the parameters considered, mean frequency and maximum frequency were the least variable and therefore most likely to reflect identity information encoded in frequency modulation patterns. Our results suggest that signature whistles are commonly used by T. aduncus.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)512-527
JournalMarine Mammal Science
Issue number2
Early online date5 Aug 2013
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


  • Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin
  • Tursiops aduncus
  • Categorization
  • Identify
  • Signature whistle


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