[MARMAM] Recent publication on "sponging" dolphins in Shark Bay

Simon Allen S.Allen at murdoch.edu.au
Sun Jan 5 16:30:51 PST 2014


Hi folks,

Happy 2014. The following was recently published (online early view) in Marine Mammal Science:


Characterizing the socially transmitted foraging tactic “sponging” by bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp.) in the western gulf of Shark Bay, Western Australia.


Anna M. Kopps, Michael Kruetzen, Simon J. Allen, Kathrin Bacher and William B. Sherwin


Individual foraging tactics are widespread in animals and have ecological and evolutionary implications. Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp.) in Shark Bay, Western Australia, exhibit a foraging tactic involving tool use, called “sponging.” Sponging is vertically, socially transmitted through the matriline and, to date, has been described in detail in the eastern gulf of Shark Bay (ESB). Here, we characterise sponging in the western gulf of Shark Bay (WSB), in which a different matriline engages in the behavior. We identified 40 individual “spongers” in 9 months of boat based surveys over three field seasons. As is the case in ESB, the majority of WSB spongers was female and engaged in sponging in deep channel habitats. In contrast to ESB, however, there was no difference in the number of associates between spongers and nonspongers in WSB, and activity budgets differed between spongers and deep-water nonspongers; spongers foraged more frequently and rested less than nonspongers. Group sizes in deep channel habitat, where sponging was prevalent, were typically larger than those in shallow habitat, except for foraging, perhaps indicative of higher predator abundance and/or scattered prey distribution in deep-water habitat. This research improves our understanding of within-population foraging variations in bottlenose dolphins.


Key words: activity budget, cetacean, social learning, group size, habitat specialisation, tool use, Tursiops sp.


The paper is available from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1748-7692/earlyview


Kind regards, Simon

Simon Allen
Research Associate and PhD candidate
Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit
School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Murdoch University
WA 6150 Australia

ph: +61(8) 9360 2823
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email: S.Allen at murdoch.edu.au<mailto:S.Allen at murdoch.edu.au>
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