[MARMAM] Fiordland bottlenose dolphins: male social relationships

David Lusseau d.lusseau at dal.ca
Tue Apr 3 05:57:32 PDT 2007

Dear all,

I am pleased to announce the publication of the following article in PLoS ONE (4 April 2007 issue):

Lusseau D. 2007. Why are male social relationships complex in the Doubtful Sound bottlenose dolphin population? PLoS ONE 2(4): e348 (abstract below).

PLoS ONE is an open-access journal and therefore the article is freely available at:


The article tries to make full use of the PLoS ONE publication concept and is layed out to open a discussion about female choice in bottlenose dolphin mating strategies and its potential influence on male social relationships. PLoS ONE is organised in such a way that readers can add comments to the article and start discussion threads about it.  So if you have relevant discussion points or comments about the paper, I would necourage you to post them on the article's site.


Background - Access to oestrus females tends to be the main driver of male sociality. This factor can lead to complex behavioural interactions between males and groups of males. Male bottlenose dolphins may form alliances to consort females and to compete with other males. In some populations these alliances may form temporary coalitions when competing for females. I examined the role of dyadic and group interactions in the association patterns of male bottlenose dolphins in Doubtful Sound, New Zealand. There is no apparent mating competition in this population and no consortship has been observed, yet agonistic interactions between males occur regularly. 

Methodology/Principal findings - By comparing the network of male interactions in several social dimensions (affiliative, agonistic, and associative) I show that while agonistic interactions relate to dyadic association patterns, affiliative interactions seem to relate to group association patterns. Some evidence suggests that groups of males also formed temporary coalitions during agonistic interactions. While different groups of males had similar relationships with non-oestrus females, the time they spent with oestrus females and mothers of newborns differed greatly. 

Conclusions/Significance - After considering several hypotheses, I propose that the evolution of these complex relationships was driven by sexual competition probably to out-compete other males for female choice.

best wishes,


David Lusseau, PhD
Killam postdoctoral fellow

Dalhousie University
Department of Biology
1355 Oxford Street
Halifax, B3H 4J1, Canada

Tel: (902) 494 3723
E-mail: d.lusseau at dal.ca
Website: http://www.lusseau.org

Academic editor for PLoS ONE- a revolution in scientific publication
Learn more at http://www.plosone.org
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