Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Dolphins cultivate loose alliances

Date:
March 29, 2012
Source:
University of Zurich
Summary:
Dolphins behave uniquely. On the one hand, male dolphins form alliances with others; on the other hand, they live in an open social structure. Anthropologists from the University of Zurich detected this unusual behavior in the animal kingdom in dolphins in Shark Bay, Australia.

Male dolphins form alliances with others.
Credit: The Dolphin Alliance Project

Dolphins behave uniquely. On the one hand, male dolphins form alliances with others; on the other hand, they live in an open social structure. Anthropologists from the University of Zurich detected this unusual behavior in the animal kingdom in dolphins in Shark Bay, Australia.

Male dolphins in Shark Bay, Australia, display the most complex group behavior of all mammals after us humans. Studies in the 1990s revealed that two to three male dolphins cooperate very closely with each other to isolate female dolphins from the main group for mating. Sometimes, these so-called "first-order" alliances join forces to steal females that have been monopolized by other alliances. To a degree, however, this higher-level bond among males is highly opportunistic and can change depending on the context. The formation of alliances in dolphins is only comparable with that of humans in terms of complexity.

A new study by researchers from the USA, Australia and Michael Krόtzen from the University of Zurich's Anthropological Institute & Museum now proves that these male alliances are based on an open social structure. Dolphins have multifaceted relationships with other individuals within a complex network without an obvious group structure, placing them almost on a par with us humans. This begs a comparison with the social structure of chimpanzees. Chimpanzee males also form alliances, but only between social groups, which enables them to defend their territory against members of the same species from other groups. However, this is not the case with dolphins: They defend the females, not territories.

Another explanatory model would be that dolphin males only defend females or territories during the mating season and thus avoid each other as far as possible. However, this hypothesis does not apply to dolphins in Shark Bay, either, as the observation of over 120 adult dolphins in an area of around 600 square kilometers revealed. "Our study shows for the first time that the social structure and associated behavior of dolphins is unique in the animal kingdom," explains Krόtzen.

Group behavior and the social structure of other species have always fascinated biologists. Are they similar to ours and, if yes, can we learn something about ourselves from them? The comparison of humans with apes, elephants and dolphins, all of which are species with large brains and highly developed cognitive skills, enable conclusions regarding the evolution of group behavior in humans to be drawn.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Zurich. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. Randic, R. C. Connor, W. B. Sherwin, M. Krutzen. A novel mammalian social structure in Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp.): complex male alliances in an open social network. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2012.0264

Cite This Page:

University of Zurich. "Dolphins cultivate loose alliances." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120329101510.htm>.
University of Zurich. (2012, March 29). Dolphins cultivate loose alliances. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120329101510.htm
University of Zurich. "Dolphins cultivate loose alliances." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120329101510.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) — Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) — An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins