Many social animals have cultural traditions that may shape their societies while the social structure can in turn influence how the culture is acquired. Killer whales possess culturally transmitted dialects. The divergence of dialects was thought to occur simultaneously and consistently with the gradual fission of matrilines. In this paper we compare the social associations across matrilineal units, Bayesian phylogeny of dialects and similarity of particular syllables to test whether dialects affect social structure and whether associations or common origin define similarity of call types. We found that neither phylogeny of dialects nor similarity of syllables was correlated to associations between matrilineal units, but similarity of syllables was correlated to phylogeny of dialects for four of the six syllables analysed. The complexity and fluidity of social ties between matrilineal units and the variation in cultural transmission patterns produce a complex relationship between the social network and the socially learned vocalizations.
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The structure of stereotyped calls reflects kinship and social affiliation in resident killer whales (Orcinus orca). —
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The social organization of resident-type killer whales (Orcinus orca) in Avacha Gulf, Northwest Pacific, as revealed through association patterns and acoustic similarity. —
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Geographic patterns of genetic differentiation among killer whales in the northern North Pacific. —