[MARMAM] [New Publication] Bottlenose dolphin communication during a role-specialized group foraging task

Rebecca Hamilton rebeccahamilton64 at gmail.com
Fri Jul 1 17:54:35 PDT 2022

Dear Marmam readers,

My co-authors and I are pleased to share our new publication, available
Open Access in the journal Behavioural Processes.

Rebecca A. Hamilton, Stefanie K. Gazda, Stephanie L. King, Josefin
Starkhammar, Richard C. Connor, Bottlenose dolphin communication during a
role-specialized group foraging task, Behavioural Processes, Volume 200,
2022, 104691, ISSN 0376-6357, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2022.104691.

Abstract: A division of labor with role specialization is defined as
individuals specializing in a subtask during repetitions of a group task.
While this behavior is ubiquitous among humans, there are only four
candidates found among non-eusocial mammals: lions, mice, chimpanzees, and
bottlenose dolphins. Bottlenose dolphins in the Cedar Keys, Florida, engage
in role specialized “driver-barrier feeding”, where a “driver” dolphin
herds mullet towards “barrier” dolphins. Thus trapped, the mullet leap out
of the water where the dolphins catch them in air. To investigate whether
dolphins use acoustic cues or signals to coordinate this behavior,
vocalizations were recorded before and during driver-barrier feeding.
Results of fine-scale audio and video analysis during 81 events by 7
different driver individuals suggest that barrier animals coordinate
movements during these events by cueing on the driver’s echolocation.
Analysis of dolphin whistle occurrence before driving events versus another
foraging technique, which does not involve role specialization, revealed
significantly higher whistle production immediately prior to driver-barrier
events. Possible whistle functions include signaling motivation, recruiting
individuals to participate, and/or behavioral coordination. While the use
of cues and signals is common in humans completing role-specialized tasks,
this is the first study to investigate the use of vocalizations in the
coordination of a role-specialized behavior in a non-human mammal.

The full text is available Open Access at the following link:

For any queries, please email: Rebecca.hamilton-5 at postgrad.manchester.ac.uk

Best wishes,

Becca Hamilton


PhD Student, University of Manchester

Field Manager, Cedar Key Dolphin Project

MSc in Biology, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

Twitter: @BeccaAHamilton <http://twitter.com/BeccaAHamilton> | Website:

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