Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Individual “Names” Reveal Complex Relationships in Male Bottlenose Dolphins

08.06.2018

Male bottlenose dolphins retain their individual “names” well into adulthood. Similar to humans, this plays a central role in forming and maintaining complex social relationships, recent findings carried out by researchers at the universities of Zurich and Western Australia suggest. Dolphins form long-lasting alliances in which they give each other mutual support.

Dolphins are intelligent creatures that communicate with high-frequency whistles and are capable of forming strong relationships. Within their population, male dolphins enter into complex, multi-level alliances ranging from intense, lifelong friendships to loose groups. For example, during the mating season two or three males will join forces to separate a female from the group, mate with her, and fend off rivals, or even “steal” females from other groups.


Male dolphins, despite their strong social bonds, retain their individual whistles to identify their partners and competitors.

Image: Simon Allen, Dolphin Innovation Project


Within their population, male dolphins enter into complex, multi-level alliances.

Image: Simon Allen, Dolphin Innovation Project

Recordings of individual voice labels

Scientists at UZH, the University of Western Australia and the University of Massachusetts studied 17 adult bottlenose dolphins in Shark Bay in Western Australia. The existence of complex, multi-level alliances among males was already known from previous research on this population.

Their mutual bonds are as strong as those between mothers and their calves. Earlier research had also shown that dolphins use high-frequency whistles as a kind of “name” to introduce themselves and also to be able to identify each other, even over long distances under water

For the present study, the researchers used underwater microphones to make recordings of the dolphins’ whistles, and were able to identify each male’s individual voice label. They measured the similarity of these identifying signals, both within their immediate alliance and within another network in their community. They discovered that male dolphins, despite their strong social bonds, retain their individual whistles to identify their partners and competitors, and that these do not become adapted to each other over time.

Every male dolphin retains his own call for life

“This is a very unusual finding,” says Michael Krützen, professor of anthropology and evolutionary biology at the University of Zurich. It is common for pairs or groups of animals to converge on a similar call to build and maintain their strong bonds. It occurs, for example, among certain species of parrot, bats, elephants and primates. “With male bottlenose dolphins, precisely the opposite happens: Each male keeps his own, individual call, and distinguishes himself from his allies, even when they develop an incredibly strong bond,” explains Krützen.

The fact that the individual “names” are kept helps males to keep track of their many different relationships and distinguish between friends, friends of friends, and rivals. This way they’re able to negotiate a complex social network of cooperative relationships. “Besides humans, so far only dolphins appear to retain their individual ‘names’ when it comes to forming close, long-lasting, cooperative relationships,” states Stephanie King, lead author of the study.

Physical contact to cement relationships

Male dolphins also use physical signals such as caresses, slaps and synchronized behavior to express their social bonds. “At the moment we’re looking more closely into the relationships among the males in an alliance to find out whether or not they’re equally strong between all the individuals involved,” explains Krützen.

Literature:
Stephanie L. King, Whitney R. Friedman, Simon J. Allen, Livia Gerber, Frants H. Jensen, Samuel Wittwer, Richard C. Connor, and Michael Krützen. Bottlenose Dolphins Retain Individual Vocal Labels in Multi-Level Alliances. Current Biology, June 7, 2018. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.05.013

Contact:
Prof. Michael Krützen, PhD
Department of Anthropology
University of Zurich
Phone: +41 44 635 54 12
E-mail: michael.kruetzen@aim.uzh.ch

Dr. Stephanie King
School of Biological Sciences
University of Western Australia
Crawley, WA, Australia
E-mail: stephanie.king@uwa.edu.au

Rita Ziegler | Universität Zürich
Further information:
http://www.uzh.ch/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Defense against viruses or autoimmune disorder? When the phosphate decides …
08.06.2018 | Paul-Ehrlich-Institut - Bundesinstitut für Impfstoffe und biomedizinische Arzneimittel

nachricht Maps Made of Nerve Cells
08.06.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

Im Focus: Photoexcited graphene puzzle solved

A boost for graphene-based light detectors

Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...

Im Focus: Water is not the same as water

Water molecules exist in two different forms with almost identical physical properties. For the first time, researchers have succeeded in separating the two forms to show that they can exhibit different chemical reactivities. These results were reported by researchers from the University of Basel and their colleagues in Hamburg in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

From a chemical perspective, water is a molecule in which a single oxygen atom is linked to two hydrogen atoms. It is less well known that water exists in two...

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

12th COMPAMED Spring Convention: Innovative manufacturing processes of modern implants

28.05.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

Maps Made of Nerve Cells

08.06.2018 | Life Sciences

A laser that smells like a hound

07.06.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>