Bottlenose dolphin leaders more likely to lead relatives than unrelated individuals

Bottlenose dolphin leaders more likely to lead relatives than unrelated individuals
Dolphins travelling in a group. Credit: NMFS GA No. 15459 (Jennifer Lewis)

Traveling into uncharted territory in search of food can be a dangerous undertaking, but some bottlenose dolphins may benefit by moving through their habitat with relatives who may be more experienced or knowledgeable. It turns out that leaders in bottlenose dolphin groups in the Florida Keys are more likely to be related to the dolphins that follow them, according to research published March 13 by Jennifer Lewis and colleagues from Florida International University.

In complex habitats like the of the , individuals who follow may benefit from the experience of those that lead them, but the advantages to leaders are less obvious, as they must share encountered with the group. In this study, the authors assessed indirect benefits to leaders in bottlenose dolphin groups, by measuring the chances of a leader being related to their followers. They found that when two dolphins shared a leader-follower relationship, their chances of being related were much higher than seen in dolphin pairs that associated in other ways.

Lewis adds, "These results are particularly interesting because do not stay in the same groups all the time. In fact, they change over periods of hours or days. That specific pairings within these groups (according to their roles of leader and follower) does occur, suggests that these associations are not random and that individual choices are made about leaders."


Explore further

Dolphin whistles are unfit for porpoise

More information: Lewis JS, Wartzok D, Heithaus M, Kru¨ tzen M (2013) Could Relatedness Help Explain Why Individuals Lead in Bottlenose Dolphin Groups? PLoS ONE 8(3):e58162. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058162
Journal information: PLoS ONE

Citation: Bottlenose dolphin leaders more likely to lead relatives than unrelated individuals (2013, March 13) retrieved 10 May 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2013-03-bottlenose-dolphin-leaders-relatives-unrelated.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
0 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments