acta ethologica

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 141–152 | Cite as

Inter- and intra-season stability of vocal individual signatures in a social seabird, the crested auklet

  • Anna V. KlenovaEmail author
  • Victor A. Zubakin
  • Elena V. Zubakina


Vocal plasticity due to changes of social context is well documented in passerine birds. In other bird species, the impact of social environment changes on the whole vocal structure and on individual specific signatures remains largely unexplored. Here, we assessed inter- and intra-season stability of specific features of individual signatures in advertising calls of crested auklet (Aethia cristatella) males and tested the effects of pair mate and territory changes on the stability of the calls. The crested auklet is a highly social seabird of the North Pacific that breeds in dense colonies, and its individuals switch pair mates and territories with probability of 25–54%. During summer 2008–2010, we recorded 464 trumpet calls from 21 individually marked males and determined their pair mates and positions of their displaying places on a breeding colony of Talan Island, Sea of Okhotsk. We found that strong individual specific features of crested auklet trumpet calls stay stable not only during one season but also from year to year. However, we failed to find any effects of pair mate or territory changes on individual signatures of crested auklet trumpet calls. Our results suggest that crested auklets can potentially use their individually specific trumpet calls to form long-term social bonds both between pair mates and between neighbors; however, future experimental studies should test whether this is indeed the case.


Acoustic communication Auks Call individuality Caller reliability Individual identity Vocal plasticity 



We thank Alexander V. Andreev for providing opportunity for the work on the Biological Station on Talan Island and logistic support, Ilya A. Volodin and Elena V. Volodina for financial support and constructive comments and discussion, Elena U. Golubova and Sergey P. Kharitonov for help with data gathering, Marina V. Kholodova and Pavel A. Sorokin for help with genetic sexing analysis, and Eugenia V. Bragina for manuscript reading and for consultations regarding the statistical analysis. During our work, we adhered to the “Guidelines for the treatment of animals in behavioral research and teaching” (Anim. Behav. 65: 249–255) and to the laws of Russian Federation, the country where the research was conducted. This study was funded by the Grant of the President RF (grant MK-1562-2010.4).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag and ISPA 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna V. Klenova
    • 1
    Email author
  • Victor A. Zubakin
    • 2
    • 3
  • Elena V. Zubakina
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Faculty of BiologyLomonosov Moscow State UniversityMoscowRussia
  2. 2.Severtsov Institute of Ecology and EvolutionRussian Academy of ScienceMoscowRussia
  3. 3.Russian Bird Conservation UnionMoscowRussia

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