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Cetacean vocal culture and social learning

Thursday 1 November 2018, 1.00PM

Speaker(s): Dr Ellen Garland, St Andrews

Cultural transmission, the social learning of information or behaviours from conspecifics, is believed to occur in a number of groups of animals, including primates, cetaceans, and birds. The songs of male humpback whales are one of the most outstanding examples of the transmission of a cultural trait and social learning in any nonhuman animal.

Dr Ellen Garland will discuss a striking pattern of cultural transmission we discovered in humpback whale song, where multiple song types spread rapidly and repeatedly in a unidirectional manner, like cultural ripples, eastward through the populations in the western and central South Pacific over an 11-year period. Dr Ellen will present current results on how humpback whales learn new songs, and finally discuss a new project investigating the function of humpback whale song.

Location: K018 Lecture Theatre (Dianna Bowles Theatre), Biology Building, Campus West