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Assessing geographical variation on whistle acoustic structure of three Mediterranean populations of common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

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Whistles are acoustic signals produced particularly during social interactions. Here, we compare whistles by bottlenose dolphins from three Mediterranean areas (Croatia, Sicily and Sardinia) to investigate the presence of acoustic divergence and to discuss the possible causes of variability. Whistle parameters differ significantly between populations, but PCA highlights that the majority of variability is due to a limited number of frequency parameters. Cluster and DFA show that the Croatian population is acoustically divergent from the western populations of Sicily and Sardinia. This divergence could be consistent with geographical isolation, and a possible genetic differentiation between populations, and/or an adaptation to the acoustic environment. Moreover, in a comparison of whistle parameters of different Mediterranean populations with those of previously published Atlantic populations, it was revealed that the Sicilian population was acoustically closer to Atlantic populations. Our results represent a contribution to identifying acoustically differentiated populations of bottlenose dolphins in the Mediterranean.

Affiliations: 1: aMareTerra Onlus–Environmental Research and Conservation, Regione Salondra 9, Alghero, Italy ; 2: bBlue World Institute of Marine Research and Conservation, Kaštel 24, Veli Lošinj, Croatia ; 3: cNauta Ricerca e Consulenza Scientifica, Strada della Carità 8, Milano, Italy ; 4: dDipartimento di Scienze della Terra e del Mare, Via delle Scienze ed. 16, Università degli Studi di Palermo, Palermo, Italy

*Corresponding author’s e-mail address:

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