acta ethologica

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 37–44 | Cite as

Usage of monophonic and biphonic calls by free-ranging resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) in Kamchatka, Russian Far East

  • O. A. Filatova
  • I. D. Fedutin
  • M. M. Nagaylik
  • A. M. Burdin
  • E. Hoyt
Original Paper


Killer whale discrete calls include types containing an overlapping high-frequency component (biphonic calls) and types without an overlapping high-frequency component (monophonic calls). In the resident killer whales of the Northeast Pacific, biphonic discrete calls exhibit higher source levels than monophonic calls, which suggests different active space and consequently different functions for monophonic and biphonic call types. In this study we investigate the potential communicative functions of monophonic and biphonic discrete calls produced by killer whales from Kamchatka (Northwest Pacific). We analyze how the usage of these calls depends on the number of pods present in the area and type of activity. Our results show that the usage of monophonic and biphonic calls in Kamchatkan killer whales depends on the number of pods in the area and is less dependent on the type of activity. Biphonic calls are more common when more than one pod is present in the area and could therefore function as markers of pod and matriline affiliation, serving mainly as cohesion signals. Monophonic calls dominated the vocalizations when a single pod was present, while in the presence of more than one pod both categories were used in equal proportions.


Killer whale Acoustic behavior Discrete calls Biphonation 



This research was supported by WDCS, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, Humane Society International, Animal Welfare Institute, Sacher Trusts, the Klüh Prize, the Rufford Maurice Laing Foundation, and the Russian Fund for Fundamental Research, grant #08-04-00198-а. Thanks are also due to many individuals but we would especially like to mention our colleagues who have worked tirelessly to get to know more about killer whales in the Russian Far East: Ilya Shevchenko, Tatyana Ivkovich, Evgenia Lazareva, Karina Tarasyan, and Ekatherina Jikiya. We are grateful to Hal Sato for supplying information on the identity of killer whale groups. We thank Frank Thomsen, Ilya Volodin, and anonymous reviewers for useful advice and comments on earlier versions of the mansucript. All research methods comply with the current laws of the Russian Federation.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag and ISPA 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • O. A. Filatova
    • 1
  • I. D. Fedutin
    • 2
  • M. M. Nagaylik
    • 1
  • A. M. Burdin
    • 3
    • 4
  • E. Hoyt
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Faculty of BiologyMoscow State UniversityMoscowRussia
  2. 2.Central Forest State Nature Reserve, ZapovednikTverRussia
  3. 3.Kamchatka Branch of Pacific Institute of Geography of Russian Academy of SciencesPetropavlovsk-KamchatskyRussia
  4. 4.Alaska Sealife CenterSewardUSA
  5. 5.WDCS, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation SocietyNorth BerwickUK

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