Call combination patterns in Icelandic killer whales (Orcinus orca)
N00014 08 1 0984
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Acoustic sequences have been described in a range of species and in varying complexity. Cetaceans are known to produce complex song displays but these are generally limited to mysticetes; little is known about call combinations in odontocetes. Here we investigate call combinations produced by killer whales (Orcinus orca), a highly social and vocal species. Using acoustic recordings from 22 multisensor tags, we use a first order Markov model to show that transitions between call types or subtypes were significantly different from random, with repetitions and specific call combinations occurring more often than expected by chance. The mixed call combinations were composed of two or three calls and were part of three call combination clusters. Call combinations were recorded over several years, from different individuals, and several social clusters. The most common call combination cluster consisted of six call (sub-)types. Although different combinations were generated, there were clear rules regarding which were the first and last call types produced, and combinations were highly stereotyped. Two of the three call combination clusters were produced outside of feeding contexts, but their function remains unclear and further research is required to determine possible functions and whether these combinations could be behaviour- or group-specific.
Selbmann , A , Miller , P J O , Wensveen , P J , Svavarsson , J & Samarra , F I P 2023 , ' Call combination patterns in Icelandic killer whales (Orcinus orca) ' , Scientific Reports , vol. 13 , no. 1 , 21771 . https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-48349-1
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DescriptionFunding: Funding for data collection was provided by the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (grant number SFRH/BD/30303/2006), the Icelandic Research Fund (grant numbers 120248042 and 217519), the National Geographic Global Exploration Fund (grant number GEFNE65-12), and a Russell Trust Award from the University of St. Andrews to FIPS. This project was funded in part by the generous support of Earthwatch. Additionally, funding was provided by the US Office of Naval Research (grant number N00014-08-1-0984), US Living Marine Resources (project 57), UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, and French Direction Générale de l’Armement to PJOM. A RANNÍS Infrastructure Fund (grant number 200229) provided funding to JS and PJW for CATS tags and tracking equipment. AS was supported by Doctoral Student Grants (grant number 206808 and 239641) from the Icelandic Research Fund.
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