Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

First Advisor

Caryn Self-Sullivan

Second Advisor

Kathleen Dudzinski


Individual recognition of conspecifics is important for various reasons in both terrestrial and marine dwelling species and is carried out through a variety of modes including visual, chemical and auditory cues. The ability to recognize individuals acoustically is often carried out through the use of signature vocalizations. The production and use of signature whistles within bottlenose dolphins has been extensively tested since their existence was first suggested almost 50 years ago. From the research, two primary hypotheses have emerged: the signature whistle hypothesis and the whistle repertoire hypothesis. This work discusses the various acoustical means of individual recognition found within the animal kingdom and narrows to discuss bottlenose dolphin communication and the evidence supporting these two existing hypotheses. The results from a previously unanalyzed data set, presented within this work, support the existence of individually distinct whistle contours in captive bottlenose dolphins as well as the concept that shared whistle contours, like the upsweep style whistles, probably play an important role in communication.