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Research at St Andrews

Dolphin Signature Whistles

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The term 'signature' has often been applied to animal vocalizations when an individually distinctive pattern was found in them. The vast majority of animals achieve this by means of voice cues, which result from individual variability in the shape and size of the vocal tract. Dolphin signature whistles are qualitatively different from most individually distinctive signals seen in other mammalian species. Identity is encoded in a frequency modulation pattern that is learned or invented early in life. These whistles are used in individual recognition and in maintaining group cohesion and seem to function similarly to human names.



Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Animal Behavior
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9780080453378
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009

    Research areas

  • Dolphin, Individual recognition, Signature whistle, Vocal learning

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