Researcher discovers male bottlenose dolphins using social network to secure a mate

Oct 25, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Marine biologist Jo Wiszniewski has observed a fascinating approach to mating among the Port Stephens Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins.

According to a recent research paper published by the , groups of male dolphins who put aside their sexual and form alliances with each other to seek out and reproduce with females have better reproductive success than males who go it alone.

“These results are fascinating because it demonstrates that male need to cooperate with each other to maximise their reproductive success,” says Wiszniewski.

The alliances are usually made up of two to four males and can vary in stability with some alliances lasting just a season while others can exist over many years. Alliance formation is a highly complex and long-term process that involves a high level of mutual tolerance, cooperation and coordination.

While alliances among dolphins and some other mammals have been observed before, previously there has not been a lot of evidence to show why an alliance might be preferable. What this research has found is that the more alliance partners a male has, the more successful he is at reproducing.

“We found that most of the males who were fathering offspring in this population were members of large alliances. These results explain that the benefit for some male species to form alliances is to gain mating opportunities,” says Wiszniewski.

The finding that male dolphins share mating opportunities with their alliance partners and will risk increasing their partners’ at a potential cost to themselves, indicates that dolphin relationships are based on a high level of mutual tolerance and cooperation.

“The level of cooperation and tolerance observed among is unseen in most animals. This research is important to understanding how these complex relationships operate,” says Wiszniewski.

Explore further: Insect mating behavior has lessons for drones

Related Stories

Fighting for their attention

Apr 04, 2007

Mating strategies are straightforward in bottlenose dolphins, or are they? Much of the work carried on male-female relationships in that species to date show that males tend to coerce females who are left with ...

To flirt or not to flirt, that is the question

Jun 09, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- After studying male desert goby fish, a team of Monash researchers has suggested that male sexual behaviour is primed to produce the greatest number of offspring.

Coastal dolphins quieter than thought

Nov 05, 2010

Dolphins are thought to be able to communicate with each other over vast expanses of ocean, between distances as far as 15 miles apart. Studies of dolphin whistles have suggested that they should carry that far in water, ...

Dating drought or purple patch? How males choose mates

Oct 11, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Males decide how much effort they put into courtship and which females to court based on how many others they have recently encountered and how attractive they were, according to a new study into the mating ...

Recommended for you

Insect mating behavior has lessons for drones

21 hours ago

Male moths locate females by navigating along the latter's pheromone (odor) plume, often flying hundreds of meters to do so. Two strategies are involved to accomplish this: males must find the outer envelope ...

Godwits are flexible... when they get the chance

May 29, 2015

Black-tailed godwits are able to cope with unpredictable weather. This was revealed by a thorough analysis of the extraordinary spring of 2013 by ecologist Nathan Senner of the University of Groningen and ...

Do you have the time? Flies sure do

May 28, 2015

Flies might be smarter than you think. According to research reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on May 28, fruit flies know what time of day it is. What's more, the insects can learn to con ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.