Vocal learning and labeling are unique features in animals used when they experience a particular incident or presence/absence of any objects. Bottlenose dolphins are known for their intelligence and extra-ordinary capability of training unique vocal patterns. They can train themselves through vocal learning early and then maintain this behavior throughout their lifespan. They are specialized in producing specific acoustic signal patterns, which are also known as signature whistles. This paper is organized to discuss the hypothesis of whether vocal training in bottlenose dolphins can be used for their identification and recognition. Different studies have been evaluated, strongly supporting this hypothesis by strong results from optical, behavioral, and acoustic measurements. It has been evaluated that vocal learning plays a significant role in bottlenose dolphins to identify and recognize them in a group and individually, yet there are strong arguments on the methods and results achieved so far by the researchers.
Animals have been part of studies and research for identifying results for specific tests before they can be applied to humans. Nevertheless, now this has evolved a whole new area of studying how, when, and why animals emit different sounds and behaviors when they communicate. Vocal labeling explains that animals report different incidents and the presence or absence of objects using acoustic signals with specific patterns. The property of producing specific whistles which can be distinguished for the communication and identity makes them appealing for such studies.
Labeling has been an essential feature in both human and nonhuman communication. Some patterns are very defined and specific to different animals since birth, like signals for food and alarm; these are many times confused with labeling (Hurford, 2007), (Seyfarth and Cheney, 1997), (Janik and Slater, 2000). Vocal production learning is an important branch that studies animals’ ability to copy sounds and patterns in their surroundings. They develop their repertoire of calls to communicate. This behavior has been observed in birds, bats, elephants, etc. (Janik and Slater, 1997), (Poole and Tyank, 2005) but only dolphins and parrots are capable of reproducing specific learned patterns to label and identify different objects and species in their environment (Pepperberg, 1981), (Richards, Wolz and Herman, 1984). Thus, experiments have been done to study these species’ communication patterns and systems to understand labeling and communication in animals.
Bottlenose dolphins are one of the three main species of the Delphinidae. They have been a primary source of attraction for researchers due to their ability to train their vocal ability to stand distinctive in a group. Bottlenose dolphins’ characteristic to produce specific signature whistles has become an open area of research and studied. These signature whistles are specific acoustic signal patterns used to identify and recognize the owner or the whistler. A strong hypothesis has been evaluated in this paper, which unfolds the significance of vocal learning in identifying bottlenose dolphins. Strong arguments have been discussed from literature both for and against this hypothesis. It has been identified that more rigorous and realistic studies are required to successfully map the results of the artificial experimental setups to the real sea environments.
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