Navigation Links
Humpback whale songs spread eastward like the latest pop tune
Date:4/15/2011

AUDIO: Humpback whales have their own version of the hit single, according to a study reported online on April 14 in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication. At any given time...

Click here for more information.

Humpback whales have their own version of the hit single, according to a study reported online on April 14th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication. At any given time within a population, male humpbacks all sing the same mating tune. But the pattern of the song changes over time, with the new and apparently catchy versions of the song spreading repeatedly across the ocean, almost always traveling from west to east.

"Our findings reveal cultural change on a vast scale," said Ellen Garland, a graduate student at The University of Queensland. Multiple songs moved like "cultural ripples from one population to another, causing all males to change their song to a new version." This is the first time that such broad-scale and population-wide cultural exchange has been documented in any species other than humans, she added.

Researchers from The University of Queensland in collaboration with members of the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium made the discovery by searching for patterns in whale songs recorded from six neighboring populations in the Pacific Ocean over a decade. This revealed a striking pattern of cultural transmission as whale songs spread from Australia to French Polynesia over the course of about two years.

"The songs started in the population that migrates along the eastern coast of Australia and then movedjust the songs, and probably not the whalesall the way to French Polynesia in the east," Garland said. "Songs were first learnt from males in the west and then subsequently learned in a stepwise fashion repeatedly across the vast region."

AUDIO: Humpback whales have their own version of the hit single, according to a study reported online on April 14 in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication. At any given time...

Click here for more information.

In fact, only one song ever moved to the west over the period of the study. Garland explained that the almost exclusive movement of songs to the east may be due to population size differences, because the population on the east coast of Australia is very large compared to all others in the area. The researchers suspect that either a small number of males move to other populations, taking their songs with them, or whales in nearby populations hear the new songs while they swim together on migration.

Most of the time, songs contain some material from the previous year blended with something new. "It would be like splicing an old Beatles song with U2," Garland said. "Occasionally they completely throw the current song out the window and start singing a brand new song."

Once a new song emerges, all the males seem to rapidly change their tune. Those songs generally rise to the "top of the chart" in the course of one breeding season and typically take over by the end of it.

Garland said it is not yet known why the humpbacks' songs spread in this way. In fact, why whales sing in the first place isn't fully known. Song is likely a mating display, but it is unclear whether the main effect is to attract females or to repel rival males.

Still, Garland suspects that the whales may want to stand out like a new pop song. "We think this male quest for song novelty is in the hope of being that little bit different and perhaps more attractive to the opposite sex," she said. "This is then countered by the urge to sing the same tune, by the need to conform."


'/>"/>

Contact: Elisabeth Lyons
elyons@cell.com
617-386-2121
Cell Press
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Researchers discover new wintering grounds for humpback whales using sound
2. UBC researcher reveals humpback whales dining habits -- and costs
3. NOAA scientists find killer whales in Antarctic waters prefer weddell seals over other prey
4. Whale and dolphin death toll during Deepwater disaster may have been greatly underestimated
5. Oil giant plans new platform near feeding ground of critically endangered whale
6. Colossal fossil: Museums new whale skeleton represents decades of research
7. Blue whale-sized mouthfuls make foraging super efficient
8. Fleshing out the life histories of dead whales
9. Whale-inspired ocean turbine blades
10. Whale sharks do the math to avoid that sinking feeling
11. Researchers find first genetic evidence for loss of teeth in the common ancestor of baleen whales
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:7/20/2017)... DAL ) customers now can use fingerprints instead of their ... (DCA). ... launches biometrics to board aircraft at Reagan Washington National Airport ... Delta,s biometric boarding pass experience that launched in May at ... process to allow eligible Delta SkyMiles Members who are enrolled in CLEAR ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... 2017  Hunova, the first robotic gym for the rehabilitation and functional ... in Genoa, Italy . The first 30 robots will ... USA . The technology was developed and patented at ... IIT spin-off Movendo Technology thanks to a 10 million euro investment from ... click: ...
(Date:4/24/2017)... -- Janice Kephart , former 9/11 Commission ... LLP (IdSP) , today issues the following statement: ... 6, 2017 Executive Order: Protecting the Nation ... instilled with greater confidence, enabling the reactivation of ... are suspended by until at least July 2017). ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... International research firm Parks Associates announced today that Tom ... 2017 Annual Meeting , October 11 in Scottsdale, Arizona ... and how smart safety and security products impact the competitive landscape. ... Parks Associates: Smart Home Devices: Main Purchase Driver ... "The residential security market has experienced continued growth, and ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... USDM Life Sciences , ... life sciences and healthcare industries, announces a presentation by Subbu Viswanathan and Jennifer ... “Automating GxP Validation for Agile Cloud Platforms,” will present a revolutionary approach to ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... 2017  BioTech Holdings announced today identification and ... ProCell stem cell therapy prevents limb loss in ... demonstrated that treatment with ProCell resulted in more ... compared to standard bone marrow stem cell administration.  ... reduction of therapeutic effect.  ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... October 09, 2017 , ... At its national board meeting in North ... in Harvard University’s Departments of Physics and Astronomy, has been selected for membership in ... winning team for the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental physics for the discovery of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: