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King S.L.,University of St. Andrews | Sayigh L.S.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | Wells R.S.,C o Mote Marine Laboratory | Fellner W.,The Seas | Janik V.M.,University of St. Andrews
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2013

Vocal learning is relatively common in birds but less so in mammals. Sexual selection and individual or group recognition have been identified as major forces in its evolution. While important in the development of vocal displays, vocal learning also allows signal copying in social interactions. Such copying can function in addressing or labelling selected conspecifics. Most examples of addressing in non-humans come from bird song, where matching occurs in an aggressive context. However, in other animals, addressing with learned signals is very much an affiliative signal. We studied the function of vocal copying in a mammal that shows vocal learning as well as complex cognitive and social behaviour, the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). Copying occurred almost exclusively between close associates such as mother-calf pairs and male alliances during separation and was not followed by aggression. All copies were clearly recognizable as such because copiers consistently modified some acoustic parameters of a signal when copying it. We found no evidence for the use of copying in aggression or deception. This use of vocal copying is similar to its use in human language, where the maintenance of social bonds appears to be more important than the immediate defence of resources. © 2013 The Authors.

Fellner W.,The Seas | Bauer G.B.,New College of Florida | Bauer G.B.,Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium | Stamper S.A.,New College of Florida | And 4 more authors.
Marine Mammal Science | Year: 2013

The development of motor synchrony in dolphins has been described qualitatively, but seldom quantified. We provide a detailed description of the development of synchrony in 12 calves for periods ranging from birth to a few days up to 22 wk. We observed the presence of synchrony, relative positions, and proximity and undertook a videotape analysis of one calf for initiations/terminations of synchrony, response time to breaks in synchrony, and the development of complex behaviors by the calf relative to synchrony. Synchrony was uniformly present more than 90% of the time during month 1, then began to decline gradually. Echelon position was most frequent but calves also spent time in infant position. Initially all calves were most frequently in direct physical contact with their mothers, but by 2 wk of age, all pairs were more likely to be near each other (<0.5 m) without touching. Behavioral complexity increased gradually over the study, and adults frequently performed behaviors during synchronous swimming, providing opportunities for social learning. Synchrony is a predominant behavior in mother-calf interactions, and we speculate that it may be an important mechanism through which calves learn from their mothers via their tandem interactions with the environment. © 2012 by the Society for Marine Mammalogy.

Thomas A.,The Seas | MacDonald C.,The Seas
PeerJ | Year: 2016

Cuttlefish are known for their ability to quickly alter their total appearance, or body pattern, to camouflage or to communicate with predators, prey and conspecifics. The body patterns of some species have been extensively documented to gain a better understanding of their behaviors. However, the flamboyant cuttlefish (Metasepia pfefferi) is largely unstudied. Recently, aquarists have been able to breed, house and display M. pfefferi, giving researchers ample opportunities to study their behavior under those conditions. This study aimed to identify the dorsally-visible components of the body patterns used by 5 sexually-mature, freely-behaving, F5 generation M. pfefferi in their home aquarium at The Seas in Epcot at Walt Disney World Resorts®, Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA. Furthermore, we aimed to determine the most probable patterns used by this population of animals and to create a database of components that can be used in future behavioral studies. We found that this population of M. pfefferi use a combination of 7 textural, 14 postural, 7 locomotor and between 42 and 75 chromatic components in their home aquarium. Using maximum likelihood analysis and AutoClass@IJM software, we found that these components combine to generate 11 distinct body patterns. The software was able to sort 98% of the live animal observations into one of the 11 patterns with 90% confidence and 88% of observations with 99% confidence. Unusually for cuttlefish, 8 of the 11 identified patterns contained at least one "traveling" component (i.e., traveling waves or blinking spots) in which the colors on the skin appeared to travel on the animal's mantle. In other species, these components are generally seen during hunting or aggression, but this population of M. pfefferi uses them frequently during a variety of contexts in their home aquarium. With few published data on the behavior of M. pfefferi in their natural environment, we cannot compare the behavior of the tank-raised individuals in this study to animals in the wild. However, this study provides the groundwork necessary for future studies of M. pfefferi body patterning and behavior. © 2016 Thomas and MacDonald.

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