[MARMAM] New Publication: Social Networks of Sperm Whales

Shane Gero sgero at dal.ca
Wed Jun 5 16:06:44 PDT 2013



On behalf of my co-authors, I am pleased to announce the following
publication in Proceedings of the Royal Society B:


Calves as social hubs: dynamics of the social network within sperm whale


By: Shane Gero, Jonathan Gordon, and Hal Whitehead



It is hypothesized that the primary function of permanent social
relationships among female sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) is to
provide allomothers for calves at the surface while mothers make foraging
dives. In order to investigate how reciprocity of allocare within units of
sperm whales facilitates group living, we constructed weighted social
networks based on yearly matrices of associations (2005-2010) and correlated
them across years, through changes in age and social role, to study changes
in social relationships within seven sperm whale units. Pairs of association
matrices from sequential years showed a greater positive correlation than
expected by chance, but as the time lag increases, the correlation
coefficients decreased. Over all units considered, calves had high values
for all measured network statistics, while mothers had intermediate values
for most of the measures, but high values for connectedness and affinity.
Mothers showed sharp drops in Strength and Connectedness in the first year
of their new calves' lives. These broad patterns appear to be consistent
across units. Calves appeared to be significant nodes in the network of the
social unit, and thus provide quantitative support for the theory in which
communal care acts as the evolutionary force behind group formation in this


The article is available online here:


This publication emanates from The Dominica Sperm Whale Project. For more
publications from this research program, please visit:


MEDIA: Press Material Available here:


All our best,

Shane Gero



Dr. Shane Gero

Founder | Lead Researcher

The Dominica Sperm Whale Project

 <mailto:shane at thespermwhaleproject.org> shane at thespermwhaleproject.org

 <http://www.thespermwhaleproject.org/> www.thespermwhaleproject.org


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