New analysis reveals why whale tune tradition differs between northern and southern hemispheres


Whale tune tradition differs between northern and southern hemispheres. Credit: Ellen C. Garland

A brand new examine of humpback whale tune by Royal Holloway, University of London and University of St. Andrews has revealed that, whereas all humpback whales share a love for studying new songs, these songs change and unfold by way of whale populations in numerous methods primarily based on their geographical surroundings.

While humpbacks in northern hemisphere populations have lengthy been recognized to sing songs that slowly evolve over many years, earlier research of whales within the Southern Pacific revealed songs present process dramatic cultural modifications, with males quickly changing the song of the earlier 12 months with a completely new tune adopted from a neighboring inhabitants. It has by no means been recognized, nevertheless, whether or not this cultural distinction between musical evolution within the north, and fast revolution within the south, could be as a consequence of variations in how particular person whales be taught, or in how their cultures develop.

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The new analysis, “Global Cultural Evolutionary Model of Humpback Whale Song,” revealed that whereas all whale populations share the identical desire for brand spanking new and unfamiliar songs, their native geography determines whether or not this results in revolutionary or evolutionary cultural patterns. Humpback whale tune, having existed for hundreds of thousands of years, is a unprecedented instance of vocal cultural conduct within the pure world. Whale tune is a well-known instance of animal “culture,” that’s conduct that’s broadly shared inside a neighborhood, and transmitted by people studying from each other.

Ocean geography can influence how humpback whale populations work together. Southern hemisphere humpbacks convene round intensive feeding territories round Antarctica. This implies that interactions between populations are very uncommon however, in these uncommon encounters, thrilling new songs heard from a neighboring inhabitants will be discovered, then quickly unfold inside that population.

In distinction, each oceans within the northern hemisphere are constrained by continents on east and west sides, funneling whales of a number of populations into comparatively small areas. This implies that the extra frequent interactions within the north create slower, iterative modifications to a communal tune in that ocean basin. With these excessive charges of interactions, new variants and modifications of songs within the Northern Pacific—versus wholly new songs within the south—are quickly shared between all populations, main to at least one slowly evolving tune sort dominating your entire ocean basin.

Lies Zandberg, of Royal Holloway’s Department of Psychology, mentioned: “Humpback whale songs are one of the crucial fascinating examples of transmission of a cultural trait in any non-human animal, however their sheer measurement, distribution and large migrations make it virtually unimaginable to check this means of tune studying experimentally.

“Taking a cultural evolutionary perspective on whale song has allowed us to understand on the scale of ocean basins how these two completely different patterns of cultural change can arise, giving us a better understanding of the complexity and depth of culture in the animal kingdom.”

Humpback whales change their tune

More info:
Global cultural evolutionary mannequin of humpback whale tune, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, … .1098/rstb.2020.0242

New analysis reveals why whale tune tradition differs between northern and southern hemispheres (2021, September 6)
retrieved 6 September 2021

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