Publications by authors named "Paul Spong"

4 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Infanticide in a mammal-eating killer whale population.

Sci Rep 2018 03 20;8(1):4366. Epub 2018 Mar 20.

Pacific Biological Station, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 3190 Hammond Bay Road, Nanaimo, BC, V9T 6N7, Canada.

Infanticide can be an extreme result of sexual conflict that drives selection in species in which it occurs. It is a rarely observed behaviour but some evidence for its occurrence in cetaceans exists in three species of dolphin. Here we describe observations of an adult male killer whale (Orcinus orca) and his post-reproductive mother killing a neonate belonging to an unrelated female from the same population in the North Pacific. This is the first account of infanticide reported in killer whales and the only case committed jointly by an adult male and his mother outside of humans. Consistent with findings in other social mammals, we suggest that infanticide is a sexually selected behaviour in killer whales that could provide subsequent mating opportunities for the infanticidal male and thereby provide inclusive fitness benefits for his mother.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-22714-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5861072PMC
March 2018

The structure of stereotyped calls reflects kinship and social affiliation in resident killer whales (Orcinus orca).

Naturwissenschaften 2010 May 9;97(5):513-8. Epub 2010 Mar 9.

Sea Mammal Research Unit, Scottish Oceans Institute, University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, Fife KY168LB, Scotland, UK.

A few species of mammals produce group-specific vocalisations that are passed on by learning, but the function of learned vocal variation remains poorly understood. Resident killer whales live in stable matrilineal groups with repertoires of seven to 17 stereotyped call types. Some types are shared among matrilines, but their structure typically shows matriline-specific differences. Our objective was to analyse calls of nine killer whale matrilines in British Columbia to test whether call similarity primarily reflects social or genetic relationships. Recordings were made in 1985-1995 in the presence of focal matrilines that were either alone or with groups with non-overlapping repertoires. We used neural network discrimination performance to measure the similarity of call types produced by different matrilines and determined matriline association rates from 757 encounters with one or more focal matrilines. Relatedness was measured by comparing variation at 11 microsatellite loci for the oldest female in each group. Call similarity was positively correlated with association rates for two of the three call types analysed. Similarity of the N4 call type was also correlated with matriarch relatedness. No relationship between relatedness and association frequency was detected. These results show that call structure reflects relatedness and social affiliation, but not because related groups spend more time together. Instead, call structure appears to play a role in kin recognition and shapes the association behaviour of killer whale groups. Our results therefore support the hypothesis that increasing social complexity plays a role in the evolution of learned vocalisations in some mammalian species.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00114-010-0657-zDOI Listing
May 2010

Intra- and intergroup vocal behavior in resident killer whales, Orcinus orca.

J Acoust Soc Am 2007 Dec;122(6):3710-6

Department of Behavioural Biology, University of Vienna, A-1090 Vienna, Austria.

Vocal communication within and between groups of individuals has been described extensively in birds and terrestrial mammals, however, little is known about how cetaceans utilize their sounds in their natural environment. Resident killer whales, Orcinus orca, live in highly stable matrilines and exhibit group-specific vocal dialects. Single call types cannot exclusively be associated with particular behaviors and calls are thought to function in group identification and intragroup communication. In the present study call usage of three closely related matrilines of the Northern resident community was compared in various intra- and intergroup contexts. In two out of the three matrilines significant changes in vocal behavior depending both on the presence and identity of accompanying whales were found. Most evidently, family-specific call subtypes, as well as aberrant and variable calls, were emitted at higher rates, whereas "low arousal" call types were used less in the presence of matrilines from different pods, subclans, or clans. Ways in which the observed changes may function both in intra- and intergroup communication.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.2799907DOI Listing
December 2007

Vocal behavior of resident killer whale matrilines with newborn calves: the role of family signatures.

J Acoust Soc Am 2006 Jan;119(1):627-35

Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, University of Vienna, Althanstrasse 14, 1090 Vienna, Austria.

Studies of the vocal behavior of resident killer whales or orcas, Orcinus orca, in British Columbia have shown that matrilines have unique call repertoires consisting of up to 17 different call types. These call types cannot be attributed exclusively to specific behaviors, and their function in social contexts is poorly understood. This study investigated the change in call patterns of three resident matrilines in a changed social environment, before and up to one year after the birth of a calf. Acoustic data were collected with a network of hydrophones and were supplemented by visual observations. Call use changed distinctly after the birth of a calf in all three observed matrilines. All call types that were recorded in control situations were also recorded in postbirth situations; however, aberrant versions of discrete calls and excitement calls made up a higher proportion of calls after birth. Most conspicuously, family-specific call types occurred significantly more frequently in the days following a birth in two of the three matrilines and gradually returned to prebirth values within 2 weeks. Their increased use after a calf's birth may facilitate the learning process of this "acoustic family badge" and thereby help to recognize and maintain cohesion with family members.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.2130934DOI Listing
January 2006
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