Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

Humpback Song Call of the Wild

Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

Humpback Song Call of the Wild

Article excerpt

yvonne miles

Marine biologist

WHEN it comes to finding a mate, Tinder, Match or any other dating app does not come close to the song of a humpback whale in his search to find love.

For the humpback whale, mate choice and male-male competition on the breeding grounds appears to be influenced by complex male advertisement displays.

These interactions are more influenced by the acoustic properties of the display.

The term 'sexual selection' was coined by Charles Darwin, describing the evolutionary pressures for selecting traits that increase mating success.

There are two ways this works - it can increase the ability of an animal to compete with a conspecific or it can increase the likelihood of an animal that will be chosen to mate with.

There are three factors that influence female choice in the humpbacks - the speciality of the display and the quality of the male, sensory bias of the female, and positive feedback between a female preference and the male display.

The biggest association between a display indicator and male quality is the frequency of a display and the size of the male.

If the frequency of a sound is influenced by a physical structure, like a resonant cavity, then the frequency of the sound will be lower for an animal with a larger resonator.

The song of a humpback whale male will advertise his size and this will assist the female in her choice of male through the frequencies of his song.

So, if females choose larger males by selecting the males with the lowest frequencies this would create a selection pressure for the males to make the lowest frequencies they can.

But as we know there is another factor when it comes to humpback male song. It is also the complexity of the song that will attract the female, and here again the sign of sexual selection for this choice would show in the female's positive feedback of her selection choice. …

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