Miss Natalie Sinclair:
Miss Natalie Sinclair
Harold Mitchell Building
University of St Andrews
Sea Mammal Research Unit
School of Biology
Centre for Biological Diversity
Scottish Oceans Institute
Biology Equality and Diversity Committee
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Some of the strongest evidence for nonhuman culture is found in the complex songs of humpback whales. Our understanding of humpback whale song is helping us to better protect humpback populations across the world, while also increasing our understanding of cultural behaviours in our own species. All male humpback whales within the same breeding population exhibit the same song type at any given time. Whale song also changes gradually, with all singers of the same population updating their song to maintain similarity across the population. Furthermore, song has been found to radiate eastward in the South Pacific, as individuals within adjacent populations learn the neighboring population’s song. My research will address two key questions focusing on the transmission of song in the central and eastern South Pacific. Firstly, we don’t yet know how the Cook Islands function in the transmission of song to neighbouring populations and secondly, we don’t yet know how song is transmitted as we move further eastward, past French Polynesia. My PhD research will address these questions by analysing and comparing long term datasets of songs recorded in the Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Ecuador.