Common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) use individually distinctive signature
whistles which are highly stereotyped and function as contact calls. Here we
investigate whether Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (T. aduncus) use signature whistles.
The frequency trace of whistle contours recorded from three genetically distinct
free-ranging populations was extracted and sorted into whistle types of similar shape
using automated categorization. A signature whistle identification method based on
the temporal patterns in signature whistle sequences of T. truncatus was used to identify
signature whistle types (SWTs). We then compared the degree of variability in
SWTs for several whistle parameters to determine which parameters are likely to
encode identity information. Additional recordings from two temporarily isolated
T. aduncus made during natural entrapment events in 2008 and 2009 were analyzed
for the occurrence of SWTs. All populations were found to produce SWTs; 34 SWTs
were identified from recordings of free-ranging T. aduncus and oneSWT was prevalent
in each recording of the two temporarily isolated individuals. Of the parameters considered,
mean frequency and maximumfrequency were the least variable and therefore
most likely to reflect identity information encoded in frequency modulation patterns.
Our results suggest that signature whistles are commonly used by T. aduncus.