[MARMAM] new publication: Moray Firth bottlenose dolphins

David Lusseau david.lusseau at gmail.com
Fri Nov 4 00:45:40 PST 2005

We are pleased to announce the publication of the following article in
Journal of Animal Ecology (abstract below):

Lusseau, D., Wilson, B., Hammond, P.S., Grellier, K., Durban, J.W., Parsons,
K.M., Barton, T.R. & Thompson, P.M. 2005.

Quantifying the influence of sociality on population structure in bottlenose
dolphins. Journal of Animal Ecology

 The article is available in the Online Early section of the journal (
http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/loi/jae) and a pdf reprint is available

the Lighthouse Field Station's website (



The social structure of a population plays a key role in many aspects of its
ecology and biology. It influences its genetic make-up, the way diseases
spread through it and the way animals exploit their environment. However,
the description of social structure in nonprimate animals is receiving
little attention because of the difficulty in abstracting social structure
from the description of association patterns between individuals.

Here we focus on recently developed analytical techniques that facilitate
inference about social structure from association patterns. We apply them to
the population of bottlenose dolphins residing along the Scottish east
coast, to detect the presence of communities within this population and
infer its social structure from the temporal variation in association
patterns between individuals.

Using network analytical techniques, we show that the population is composed
of two social units with restricted interactions. These two units seem to be
related to known differences in the ranging pattern of individuals. By
examining social structuring at different spatial scales, we confirm that
the identification of these two units is the result of genuine social
affiliation and is not an artefact of their spatial distribution.

We also show that the structure of this fission-fusion society relies
principally on short-term casual acquaintances lasting a few days with a
smaller proportion of associations lasting several years. These findings
highlight how network analyses can be used to detect and understand the
forces driving social organization of bottlenose dolphins and other social

Dr. David Lusseau
Research Fellow

University of Aberdeen
School of Biological Sciences
Lighthouse Field Station

George Street
Cromarty, IV11 8YJ, UK

Tel: +44 1381 600 548
Fax: +44 1381 600 548
E-mail: d.lusseau at abdn.ac.uk
david.lusseau at gmail.com

Website: http://www.lusseau.org
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