More of the same: allopatric humpback whale populations share acoustic repertoire.

Academic Article


  • BACKGROUND: Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) are a widespread, vocal baleen whale best known for producing song, a complex, repetitive, geographically distinct acoustic signal sung by males, predominantly in a breeding context. Humpback whales worldwide also produce non-song vocalizations ("calls") throughout their migratory range, some of which are stable across generations. METHODS: We looked for evidence that temporally stable call types are shared by two allopatric humpback whale populations while on their northern hemisphere foraging grounds in order to test the hypothesis that some calls, in strong contrast to song, are innate within the humpback whale acoustic repertoire. RESULTS: Despite being geographically and genetically distinct populations, humpback whales in Southeast Alaska (North Pacific Ocean) share at least five call types with conspecifics in Massachusetts Bay (North Atlantic Ocean). DISCUSSION: This study is the first to identify call types shared by allopatric populations, and provides evidence that some call types may be innate.
  • Authors

  • Fournet, Michelle
  • Jacobsen, Lauren
  • Gabriele, Christine M
  • Mellinger, David K
  • Klinck, Holger
  • Publication Date

  • 2018
  • Published In

  • PeerJ  Journal
  • Keywords

  • Humpback whale
  • Innate calls
  • Non-song vocalizations
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • e5365
  • Volume

  • 6