[MARMAM] New Publication: Grouping and fission-fusion dynamics in Australian snubfin and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins

Guido Parra guido.parra at flinders.edu.au
Tue Oct 25 21:00:16 PDT 2011

Dear colleagues,
We are pleased to announce the recent publication of the following paper:
Parra, G. J., Corkeron, P. J. & Arnold, P. Grouping and fission-fusion dynamics in Australian snubfin and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, Animal Behaviour (2011), doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2011.09.027
It is available online in advance via the following link:


Dolphins live in complex social systems with a wide variety of grouping and association patterns. Understanding the spatiotemporal variation of these associations (fission-fusion dynamics) is necessary to investigate the underlying factors and mechanisms shaping mammalian social systems in aquatic environments. We used boat-based surveys, photoidentification, focal observations, association analyses and social network techniques to quantify variation in the grouping patterns and fission-fusion dynamics of small, sympatric populations of Australian snubfin dolphins, Orcaella heinsohni, and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, Sousa chinensis, off the northeast coast of Queensland. Schools of snubfin dolphins were larger and more stable, irrespective of behavioural activity, than those of humpback dolphins. While associations of both species showed nonrandom patterns and structure, the social network of snubfin dolphins was characterized by numerous strong associations, whereas the strength of the humpback dolphin's social network did not differ from random. Modelling of temporal patterns of association indicated long-lasting associations were an important feature of snubfin dolphins' fission-fusion dynamics. In contrast, associations among humpback dolphins over time were best described by short-term relationships. The contrasting grouping and fission-fusion dynamics of snubfin and humpback dolphins appear to be a response to different feeding habits and prey availability. Future studies involving molecular techniques and direct quantification of food availability and predation risk will help elucidate the suite of interacting ecological, social and evolutionary factors shaping their social structures.

All the best,

Guido J. Parra, PhD

Head, Cetacean Ecology, Behaviour and Evolution Lab (CEBEL)
School of Biological Sciences
Flinders University
Sturt Road, Bedford Park|South Australia|5042
GPO Box 2100|Adelaide| South Australia|5001
My Flinders Staff Page<http://www.flinders.edu.au/people/guido.parra>

Cetacean Ecologist
Threatened, Endangered & Protected Species (TEPS)
Marine Environment & Ecology Science Program Area
South Australian Research & Development Institute (SARDI) - Aquatic Sciences

Phone: (+61 8) 8201-5184|Mobile: 0437630843|FAX: (+61 8) 8201-3015
CRICOS Registered Provider. The Flinders University of South Australia|CRICOS provider Number: 00114A

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