Ecological and social drivers of acoustic communication in killer whales (Orcinus orca)

Tatiana Marchon, PhD student at Research centre of Húsavík and Vestmannaeyjar 

Friday, Jan 19th 12:30 in Askja N-131


The killer whale (Orcinus orca) is an apex predator with a cosmopolitan distribution around the world that heavily relies on acoustic communication for its survival. Previous studies of sympatric populations of killer whales in the Pacific have demonstrated that their strict diet specializations (of fish or marine mammal prey) have shaped their stable social organization and vocal behaviour. In contrast, North Atlantic killer whales can include both fish and marine mammals in their diet and display fluid social association patterns. Patterns of vocal communication and functions of the sounds produced have been little studied outside the Pacific, which limit our understanding of how these divergences in ecology and sociality shape killer whale communication. Therefore, North Atlantic killer whales pose an interesting case study to investigate how sociality and ecology shape different patterns of acoustic communication in this apex predator. However, in order to study acoustic signals properly, accurate categorization of animal sounds into biologically meaningful categories is of great importance. In this talk, I will first show you how the categorization performance of a neural network can be improved by including all the components of a sound. Then, I will investigate the distribution of killer whales around Iceland, to determine site fidelity and connectivity between areas displaying different foraging strategies. Finally, I will show you how I plan to determine the group-specificity of the acoustic repertoires of Icelandic killer whales and the influence of behavioural state on their acoustic communication. 


Zoom link:

Ugla event: