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科学家为“孤独海牛”平反:它们其实会聊天

更新时间:2018-9-23 11:07:59 来源:千亿千亿国际娱乐官网 作者:佚名

Discovering the secrets of manatee chat
科学家为“孤独海牛”平反:它们其实会聊天

Not so long ago, Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris) were thought to be mostly silent, solitary herbivores with a simple communication system consisting mainly of contact calls between a mother and her calf.

不久前,人们还认为佛罗里达海牛(学名Trichechus manatus latirostris)是一种大多时候都默不做声,独来独往的食草动物,交流系统极其简单,主要就是海牛妈妈和宝宝的对话。

However, research in recent years has suggested manatees might not be so solitary after all and may have a complex vocal repertoire that goes beyond simple parent/child communication.

然而,近年来的研究表明,海牛可能并不是个独行侠,而且可能拥有一个复杂的声音库,不只是母子沟通这么简单。

When compared to other fully aquatic marine mammals like dolphins or whales, manatees’ vocal repertoire is limited, but we’re yet to fully understand the extent of their language, the degree of individual variations and, most importantly, the functions of their various calls.

与其他完全水生的海洋哺乳动物,如海豚或鲸鱼相比,海牛的声音是有限的,但我们也并没有完全掌握它们的语言程度,个体差异度,以及最重要的是,各种交流的用途。

To address these gaps in our knowledge, Cetalingua Project (my research group which decodes marine mammal communication) has launched a citizen science study called “Manatee Chat” on the Zooniverse website. First, we are asking people to help us identify manatees’ calls and eating noises by listening to sound files and visually examining a spectrogram (a visual representation of the sound and its frequency changes over time). In the second phase, we will classify these sounds and decode the individual calls of specific animals.

为了解开这些谜团,我的研究小组Cetalingua Project(专门研究海洋哺乳动物的交流)在宇宙动物园(Zooniverse)网站上发起了一项名为“海牛聊天”的公民科学研究。首先,我们请参与研究的人通过听音频和观察声谱图(以视觉形式表现声音及其频率变化的图谱)来帮助我们分辨哪些是海牛的呼叫,哪些是进食的声音。在第二阶段,我们将对这些声音进行分类,并分析研究每头海牛发出的叫声。

Manatee Chat uses a very large dataset which I collected over several years at the Manatee Rehabilitation Center, Tampa Zoo at Lowry Park, Florida. The first thing many citizen scientists notice is how unexpectedly bird-like manatee calls are. Manatees are big: they can grow to over 4m (13ft) in length and weigh around 1400kg (220 stone) so it is surprising to hear their high-pitched chirps and squeaks. It is a mystery why they produce these sounds as lower frequencies would travel farther and allow them to keep in touch even over long distances.

“海牛聊天”这项研究使用了我多年来在美国佛罗里达州坦帕市洛瑞动物园海牛康复中心收集的大量数据。许多公民科学家在研究中注意到的第一件事是,海牛叫声竟会与鸟叫如此相似。海牛体型巨大,长度能超过4米(13英尺),重约1400公斤(220石),而叫起来竟是如此高音调的唧唧啾啾声,的确令人没想到。频率较低的声音会传播得更远,通讯距离能更长,海牛为何使用高频率的叫声,至今还是个迷。

Launched in March 2018, over 1200 citizen scientists have taken part in the project so far. They have already found a number of interesting and unexpected calls and even some mystery sounds that have not been identified yet.

自“海牛聊天”项目于2018年3月启动至今,已有1200多名公民科学家参与其中,并且已经发现了许多有趣和意想不到的叫声,甚至还有一些尚未确定的神秘声音。

Ultimately, the classifications made by volunteers will be used to produce better models to identify and classify all calls automatically. Such a system would have many conservational benefits and help to decode the functions of manatee calls.

最终,声音被志愿者分类妥当后将用于制作更优化的模型,能自动识别和分类所有叫声。这个系统将对海牛的保育工作大有益处,并且有助于了解叫声的用途。

This technology could help solve some of the mysteries that surround this enigmatic species such as how do they navigate? Can they remember and recognise fellow manatees they met years ago? What information do their calls convey? Do they have alarm calls? Why are they being hit by boats despite their excellent hearing?

这项声音识别技术还可以帮助我们解开围绕在海牛这个神秘物种身上的其他谜团,例如它们如何导航?能记得并认出多年前遇到的同伴吗?叫声传达了什么信息?有没有危险警报信号?明明听力非常好但为什么会被船撞?

We invite current and future citizen scientists to take a part in this project, not only because it contributes to scientific knowledge, but because it is interesting and fun. No two soundfiles are the same, and many of our current citizen scientists get excited when they find a clear call or an intense call exchange among several manatees. In the future, we plan to add video clips so citizen scientists can analyse behavioral states that correspond to the sound files and see elusive manatees up close.

我们邀请现在和未来的公民科学家们参与这个项目,不仅因为它有助于拓展科学知识,还因为研究本身就十分有趣。没有两个声音文件是相同的,许多公民科学家在发现几头海牛之间或清晰或激烈的叫声交流时都会非常兴奋。未来,我们计划添加视频,以便公民科学家们可以分析与音频相对应的行为状态,近距离观察难以捉摸的海牛。

A 2017 census found that only 6,620 manatees are left in Florida’s waters and even though the population has been recovering in recent years, manatees still face many challenges including boat strikes, cold stress (manatees cannot adapt to water temperatures below 20C and will experience metabolic slow-down, compromised immunity, and eventual death as they stop eating and lose weight), toxic algae blooms, and habitat destruction. By learning more about these mysterious aquatic herbivores, we can better understand their ecology, biology, cognition, and communication.

2017年进行的海牛数量调查发现,在佛罗里达水域只剩下6620头海牛,尽管近年来数量在不断上升,海牛仍然面临许多挑战,包括船只撞击、低温问题(海牛无法适应20摄氏度以下的水温,并且会因为停止进食和重量减少而代谢缓慢,免疫力下降,最终死亡)、大量繁殖的有毒藻类,以及栖息地的破坏。通过更多地了解这种神秘的水生食草动物,我们可以更好地了解它们的生态学、生物学、认知和交流问题。

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