, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 171-177

Sex difference in signature whistle production of free-ranging bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncates

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Signature whistles of 42 free-ranging bottle-nose dophin calves were compared to those of their mothers. Humans judged their similarity by inspection of spectrograms. There was a sex difference in the tendency of calves to produce whistles similar to or different from those of their mothers; most female calves produced whistles that were different from those of their mothers, whereas male calves were more likely to produce whistles that were similar to those of their mothers. Because matrilineally related females associate together and use signature whistles to establish and/or maintain contact with their calves, there may be a selective pressure for females to produce whistles that are distinct from those of their mothers. There may be fewer constraints governing whistle development in males, with the result that some males produce whistles similar to those of their mothers and others do not.