Penguins produce contact calls to maintain social relationships and group cohesion. Such vocalisations have recently been demonstrated to encode individual identity information in the African penguin. Using a source-filter theory approach, we investigated whether acoustic cues of individuality can also be found in other Spheniscus penguins and the acoustic features of contact calls have diverged within this genus. We recorded vocalisations from two ex-situ colonies of Humboldt penguin and Magellanic penguin (sympatric and potentially interbreeding in the wild) and one ex-situ group of African penguins (allopatric although capable of interbreeding with the other two species in captivity). We measured 14 acoustic parameters from each vocalisation. These included temporal (duration), source-related (fundamental frequency,𝑓0), and filter-related (formants) parameters. They were then used to carry out a series of stepwise discriminant function analyses (with cross-validation) and General Linear Model comparisons.We showed that contact calls allow individual discrimination in two additional species of the genus Spheniscus. We also found that calls can be classified according to species in a manner far greater than that attributable by chance, even though there is limited genetic distance among African, Humboldt, and Magellanic penguins. Our results provide further evidence that the source-filter theory is a valuable framework for investigating the biologically meaningful information contained in bird vocalisations. Our findings also provide novel insights into penguin vocal communication and suggest that contact calls of the penguin family are affected by selection for individuality.
Favaro, L., Gili, C., Da Rugna, C., Gnone, G., Fissore, C., Sanchez, D., ... & Pessani, D. (2016). Vocal individuality and species divergence in the contact calls of banded penguins. Behavioural processes, 128, 83-88.