Demonstrating cetacean communicative cultures requires documenting vocal differences among conspecific groups that are socially learned and stable across generations. Evidence to date does not provide strong scientific support for culture in cetacean vocal systems. Further, functional analyses with playbacks are needed to determine whether observed group differences in vocalizations are meaningful to the animals themselves.
This case involves invasive research on captive wild populations of birds to study aggressive animal behavior. The case and associated commentaries raise and examine fundamental issues: whether and under what conditions, such research is ethically justified when the research has no expected, direct application to the human species; the moral status of animals and how one balances concern for the animal’s interests against the value of gains in scientific knowledge. They also emphasize the issue of the importance of a thorough (...) literature search to ensure appropriate research design and experimental design to minimize animal suffering. It raises the issue of circumstances in which such research should be modified or terminated. (shrink)