SMM Editors’ Select Series Webinar, 21 March 2024: A first investigation of geographical variation in Cape fur seals’ in-air vocalizations, with Dr. Mathilde Martin

You are invited to the next edition of the SMM Editors’ Select Webinar Series. This series highlights the latest and most exciting marine mammal science published in the Marine Mammal Science Journal. The SMM created this series to give scientists and citizens around the world a chance to engage with marine mammal scientists, learn, and ask questions. All are welcome!

Join us on Thursday March 21st 2024 at 10 am EDT / 3 pm CET
for the next SMM Editors’ Select Series Webinar:
A first investigation of geographical variation in Cape fur seals’ in-air vocalizations
with Dr. Mathilde Martin

This event was recorded live and published on youtube:
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About this talk:
Marine mammals are known to communicate extensively through acoustic signals in all their social interactions. In pinnipeds (seals, fur seals, and walruses), breeding takes place on land (or on ice) and individuals use in-air vocalisations to exchange information between mating partners or between mother and young. Cape fur seals breed at about 40 different breeding sites distributed along the southwest and south coasts of Southern Africa. These colonies are located on both the mainland and islands and are characterized by various terrains such as bare rock, boulders, ledges, or open sandy beaches. In this study, we compared the acoustic features of Cape fur seals’ vocalisations recorded at 6 different study sites in Namibia and South Africa to investigate potential geographical variation in the species’ vocal repertoire. Comparisons among closely located sites revealed limited geographical variation whereas more pronounced differences were found in the frequency structure of males, females and pups’ vocalisations recorded at more distant sites. Although we were unable to control for certain factors (mainly due to the difficulty of accessing the colonies), we discuss here the potential impact of social and environmental factors in driving intra-species variation in Cape fur seals’ vocalisations. Such investigations help understand how acoustic communication in marine mammals is shaped by ecological drivers.

About the presenter:
Mathilde Martin is a biologist, specialist in animal behaviour, and more specifically in acoustic communication in terrestrial and marine mammals. Her research focuses on deciphering what information is encoded in their vocalisations and how vocal signals can modulate socials interactions, in relation to the species’ ecological constraints. Her approach combines audio recordings in the field, analyses of the acoustic structure of vocalisations and experimental tests on wild animals. Mathilde first explored the social calls exchanged during mother-calf interactions in humpback whales. Then, during her PhD at the Institute of Neurosciences Paris-Saclay, she investigated several aspects of the acoustic communication network of the Cape fur seal, such as the transmission of individual information, male-male or mother-pup individual vocal recognition systems, as well as the impact of noise pollution on the behaviour of these animals. She is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Zurich where she is studying the role of meerkats’ close calls in the maintenance of group cohesion during foraging.

Open access to this article is made temporarily available in the weeks around the presentation and can be found here. Current SMM members have access to all Marine Mammal Science papers.

Missed a presentation or want to share this series with a friend? All previous Editors’ Select presentations are recorded and archived on our YouTube channel here.

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