Cultural evolution of killer whale calls: background, mechanisms and consequences

Cultural evolution of killer whale calls: background, mechanisms and consequences Cultural evolution is a powerful process shaping behavioural phenotypes of many species including our own. Killer whales are one of the species with relatively well-studied vocal culture. Pods have distinct dialects comprising a mix of unique and shared call types; calves adopt the call repertoire of their matriline through social learning. We review different aspects of killer whale acoustic communication to provide insights into the cultural transmission and gene-culture co-evolution processes that produce the extreme diversity of group and population repertoires. We argue that the cultural evolution of killer whale calls is not a random process driven by steady error accumulation alone: temporal change occurs at different speeds in different components of killer whale repertoires, and constraints in call structure and horizontal transmission often degrade the phylogenetic signal. We discuss the implications from bird song and human linguistic studies, and propose several hypotheses of killer whale dialect evolution. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Behaviour Brill

Cultural evolution of killer whale calls: background, mechanisms and consequences

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
Copyright 2015 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands.
Subject
Review
ISSN
0005-7959
eISSN
1568-539X
D.O.I.
10.1163/1568539X-00003317
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Cultural evolution is a powerful process shaping behavioural phenotypes of many species including our own. Killer whales are one of the species with relatively well-studied vocal culture. Pods have distinct dialects comprising a mix of unique and shared call types; calves adopt the call repertoire of their matriline through social learning. We review different aspects of killer whale acoustic communication to provide insights into the cultural transmission and gene-culture co-evolution processes that produce the extreme diversity of group and population repertoires. We argue that the cultural evolution of killer whale calls is not a random process driven by steady error accumulation alone: temporal change occurs at different speeds in different components of killer whale repertoires, and constraints in call structure and horizontal transmission often degrade the phylogenetic signal. We discuss the implications from bird song and human linguistic studies, and propose several hypotheses of killer whale dialect evolution.

Journal

BehaviourBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2015

Keywords: killer whale; dialect; culture; cultural evolution; gene-culture coevolution

References

  • Ecological and social determinants of group size in transient killer whales
    Baird R.W. Dill L.M.

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