Presentation Title

Southern Hemisphere Humpback Whale Acoustic Activity and Song Structure in Panama

Project Collaborators

Laura May-Collado, Shelby Rosten, Danielle Mcaree, Riley O'Halloran, Kristin Rasmussen

Abstract

The song of humpback whale males is one of the most studied topics in the biology of cetaceans. Males sing in breeding grounds presumably to attract female mates and to compete with other singing males. The males sing long and complex songs that consist of hierarchical components. Within a distinct population, males typically conform to the song of their conspecifics over a breeding season. Thus, songs can display high geographical and seasonal stratification, with song sharing only occurring between regions that share individuals. Another key aspect of humpback whale males is that previously they were thought to sing only in breeding grounds. New research now indicates that males sing as they migrate from high-latitude feeding grounds to low-latitude breeding grounds, providing further opportunities for song sharing between populations. This study provides the first description of the humpback whale song in Islas Secas, Panama, an important Central American breeding ground, from 2017 to 2019. The data is derived from a combination of passive acoustic data from an autonomous underwater recorder and recordings from a research boat. In addition, I will be measuring the pace of change in the song structure to determine if there are gradual or rapid changes in song structure, which can provide information on site fidelity and connectivity with other whale breeding grounds. The results of this study will provide information on population connectivity that can inform national and regional efforts to protect these whales and their acoustic habitat.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Laura May-Collado

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Arts and Sciences

Program/Major

Biological Science

Primary Research Category

Biological Sciences

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Southern Hemisphere Humpback Whale Acoustic Activity and Song Structure in Panama

The song of humpback whale males is one of the most studied topics in the biology of cetaceans. Males sing in breeding grounds presumably to attract female mates and to compete with other singing males. The males sing long and complex songs that consist of hierarchical components. Within a distinct population, males typically conform to the song of their conspecifics over a breeding season. Thus, songs can display high geographical and seasonal stratification, with song sharing only occurring between regions that share individuals. Another key aspect of humpback whale males is that previously they were thought to sing only in breeding grounds. New research now indicates that males sing as they migrate from high-latitude feeding grounds to low-latitude breeding grounds, providing further opportunities for song sharing between populations. This study provides the first description of the humpback whale song in Islas Secas, Panama, an important Central American breeding ground, from 2017 to 2019. The data is derived from a combination of passive acoustic data from an autonomous underwater recorder and recordings from a research boat. In addition, I will be measuring the pace of change in the song structure to determine if there are gradual or rapid changes in song structure, which can provide information on site fidelity and connectivity with other whale breeding grounds. The results of this study will provide information on population connectivity that can inform national and regional efforts to protect these whales and their acoustic habitat.