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 Small but ver­sat­ile; key play­ers in the mar­ine ni­tro­gen cycle can util­ize cy­anate and urea
10.12.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Marine Mikrobiologie

nachricht Carnegie Mellon researchers probe hydrogen bonds using new technique
10.12.2018 | Carnegie Mellon University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

Im Focus: Substitute for rare earth metal oxides

New Project SNAPSTER: Novel luminescent materials by encapsulating phosphorescent metal clusters with organic liquid crystals

Nowadays energy conversion in lighting and optoelectronic devices requires the use of rare earth oxides.

Im Focus: A bit of a stretch... material that thickens as it's pulled

Scientists have discovered the first synthetic material that becomes thicker - at the molecular level - as it is stretched.

Researchers led by Dr Devesh Mistry from the University of Leeds discovered a new non-porous material that has unique and inherent "auxetic" stretching...

Im Focus: The force of the vacuum

Scientists from the Theory Department of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) in Hamburg have shown through theoretical calculations and computer simulations that the force between electrons and lattice distortions in an atomically thin two-dimensional superconductor can be controlled with virtual photons. This could aid the development of new superconductors for energy-saving devices and many other technical applications.

The vacuum is not empty. It may sound like magic to laypeople but it has occupied physicists since the birth of quantum mechanics.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

Expert Panel on the Future of HPC in Engineering

03.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Small but ver­sat­ile; key play­ers in the mar­ine ni­tro­gen cycle can util­ize cy­anate and urea

10.12.2018 | Life Sciences

New method gives microscope a boost in resolution

10.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Carnegie Mellon researchers probe hydrogen bonds using new technique

10.12.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>