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紐時賞析/鯨魚不只發出聲音 座頭鯨為什麼歌唱?

2019-02-21 10:15紐時賞析

琉球外海座頭鯨躍出水面的畫面。 路透
琉球外海座頭鯨躍出水面的畫面。 路透
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The Whale Album: Why Do Humpbacks Sing?

座頭鯨為什麼歌唱?

Sometimes a whale just wants to change its tune.

That’s one of the things researchers have learned recently by eavesdropping on whales in several parts of the world and listening for changes in their pattern and pitch.

有時,鯨魚就是想換個腔調。這是研究人員最近在世上某些海域監聽鯨魚發出聲音的模式和音高的變化後,新的發現之一。

Together, the new studies suggest that whales are not just whistling in the water, but constantly evolving a form of communication that we are only beginning to understand.

Most whales and dolphins vocalize, but dolphins and toothed whales mostly make clicking and whistling sounds. Humpbacks, and possibly bowheads, sing complex songs with repeated patterns, said Michael Noad, an associate professor in the Cetacean Ecology and Acoustics Laboratory at the University of Queensland in Australia.

整合後的這些研究指出,鯨魚不是只在海裡隨興哼出口哨般的聲音,而是不斷在發展一種我們才剛開始理解的溝通形式。澳洲昆士蘭大學鯨豚生態及聲響學實驗室的副教授諾德說,多數鯨豚會發出聲音,但海豚和齒鯨大多只會發出卡嗒、哨鳴聲。然而座頭鯨(又稱大翅鯨),可能還有弓頭鯨,卻會吟唱有重覆節奏模式的繁複歌曲。

Birds may broadcast their social hierarchy among song-sharing populations by allowing the dominant bird to pick the playlist and patterns. But how and why whales pass song fragments across hundreds of miles, and to thousands of animals, is far more mysterious.

The biggest question is why whales sing at all.

在共享歌曲的鳥群裡,鳥兒們會透過歌曲宣唱社會地位,讓居支配地位的那隻鳥挑選唱什麼和怎麼唱。然而座頭鯨如何把段段歌聲遠傳數百哩,傳給數以千計的鯨魚,又為何要這麼做?卻更要費解得多。最大的問題是,鯨魚到底為什麼要唱?

“The thing that always gets me out of bed in the morning is the function of the song,” Noad said. “I find humpback song fascinating from the point of view of how it’s evolved.”

The leading hypothesis is that male humpbacks — only the males sing — are trying to attract females. But they may also switch tunes when another male is nearby, apparently to assess a rival’s size and fitness, said Noad, who was the senior author of one of four new papers on whale songs.

諾德說:「鯨魚歌唱功用何在這問題總能讓我早上從床上跳起來。座頭鯨歌曲的演化過程讓我著迷。」四篇鯨歌相關論文之一的主要作者諾德說,最為人接受的假設是,雄性座頭鯨之所以唱——只有雄性座頭鯨會唱歌——是為了吸引雌性。但若附近另有一頭雄鯨時,牠們也會轉換曲調,顯然是為了評估對方的體型和健康狀態。

Why the humpbacks’ musical patterns tend to be more complex than those of other whales is also a bit murky. Noad suggested that the development may be the result of “runaway selection.”

為什麼和其他鯨魚相比,座頭鯨的歌曲更為繁複呢?這還不很清楚。但諾德認為這一趨向可能是「費雪性擇」的結果。

Early humpbacks with complex songs were so much more successful at mating that they gained a substantial evolutionary advantage over their brethren with simpler vocalizations. This led to some very large, sometimes very noisy animals.

在早期,唱複雜歌曲的座頭鯨遠比歌曲較單調的容易尋得伴侶,這給了他們不小的演化優勢。一些體型龐大,有時候還十分聒噪的鯨魚也從而出現。

In one of the new studies, led by scientists at the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society, researchers tracked humpbacks singing along the east and west coasts of Africa, comparing songs sung by those off the coast of Gabon to those near Madagascar.

在一個前述研究裡,研究人員由總部位於紐約的國際野生生物保護學會的科學家帶隊,追蹤在非洲東西岸吟唱的座頭鯨,把加彭外海鯨角唱的歌拿來與馬達加斯加岸外鯨魚唱的做比較。

The study, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, confirmed that the two populations interact, noting overlap in their vocalizations. The researchers recorded songs annually from 2001 to 2005 using hand-held hydrophones aboard boats.

這份刊登在皇家社會開放期刊上的研究證實,這兩群鯨魚會互動,並在兩群的歌曲裡找到相似之處。從2001到2005年,研究人員每年搭船出海以手持水下麥克風錄音。

“Male humpback whales within a population tend to sing the same song type, but it’s continuously changing and evolving over time,” said Melinda Rekdahl, the study’s first author and a marine conservation scientist with the wildlife society.

國際野生生物保護學會的海洋動物保護科學家、研究報告主要作者梅琳達·雷克達爾說:「同一鯨群裡的雄性座頭鯨往往唱著同一模式的歌,但也不斷改變演化。」

文/Karen Weintraub 譯/張江寧

鯨魚澳洲紐約時報

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