Characterization of Australian fur seal vocalizations during the breeding season

Authors

  • Joy S. Tripovich,

    1. Room 225–227, JD Stewart Building B01, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia and Australian Marine Mammal Research Centre (AMMRC), Zoological Parks Board of New South Wales/Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia E-mail: joytripovich@hotmail.com
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  • Rhondda Canfield,

    1. Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
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  • Tracey L. Rogers,

    1. Australian Marine Mammal Research Centre (AMMRC), Zoological Parks Board of New South Wales/Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
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  • John P. Y. Arnould

    1. School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, Victoria 3125, Australia
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Abstract

The vocal repertoire, structure, and behavioral context of airborne vocalizations produced by Australian fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus) are described using recordings made at a breeding colony on Kanowna Island, Bass Strait, Australia. The study identified six different call types: three produced by males (bark, guttural threat, and submissive call); five produced by females (bark, guttural threat, submissive call, growl, and pup attraction call) and the female attraction call produced by pups and yearlings. Vocalizations were compared according to age and sex classes. The overall structure and function of the pup attraction and female attraction call produced by females, yearlings, and pups, was similar. However, while similar in their overall appearance, certain call types have a lower fundamental frequency when compared with other fur seals. In addition, the male bark call alters in rate of production according to the context used, where calls are slower when males are stationary and advertising their territorial status and faster when males are involved in confrontations with other males or actively herding females. Further research is required to investigate changes in environmental conditions and their effects on shaping the call structure and communication in Australian fur seals.

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