Vocal matching: the what, the why and the how

Stephanie King, Peter McGregor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
173 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Over the years, vocal matching has progressed beyond being an interesting behavioural phenomenon to one that now has relevance to a wide range of fields. In this review, we use birds and cetaceans to explain what vocal matching is, why animals vocally match and how vocal matching can be identified. We show that while the functional aspects of vocal matching are similar, the contexts in which matching is used can differ between taxa. Whereas vocal matching in songbirds facilitates mate attraction and the immediate defence of resources, in parrots and cetaceans it plays a role in the maintenance of social bonds and the promotion of behavioural synchrony. We propose criteria for defining vocal matching with the aim of stimulating more matching studies across a wider range of taxa, including those using other, non-vocal, communication modalities. Finally, we encourage future studies to explore the importance of vocal learning in the development of vocal matching, and the information it may provide to third parties in the communication network.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20160666
Number of pages6
JournalBiology Letters
Volume12
Issue number10
Early online date1 Oct 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2016

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