Yaly Mevorach

The relation between communication and social networks among sperm whale societies


Ph.D. candidate 

Abstract

Being one of the most vocal animals on the planet, sperm whales’ communication and signals are important aspects of their social lives. Their vocal signals can travel several kilometers underwater, enabling them to communicate with individuals beyond humans’ sight and transfer information on long range. Yet, what is known about the social network of this species is based mainly on their association rates and co-occurrence in the same groups, a very basic aspect of their society. In this research, we intent to study the communication network of the sperm whales in Dominica and assess the relation it has to the association network that we see. Doing so, we will add a new tier to the existing analysis and establish a new method to study the social structures of cetaceans that complement and complete the methods used today.

Purpose of the research

            This research is part of the project CETI (Cetacean Translation Initiative) who aims to use advanced machine learning technologies in order to understand the language of sperm whales. These technologies will allow us to investigate more deeply the relation between communication and sociality in the intention of advancing the field of social structure analysis by adding the communication parameter to the existing methods in order to better understand the strength of the relationships between individuals and units within a certain population. Thus, enabling a deeper understanding of the ecological processes affecting the evolution of cetacean societies in a troubled marine environment as the oceans in our time.

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