[MARMAM] New publication on long-finned pilot whale collective decision making

Elizabeth Zwamborn elizabeth.zwamborn at gmail.com
Wed Oct 11 08:18:50 PDT 2023

Dear MARMAMers,

My coauthors and I are pleased to share our new publication on collective
decision making in long-finned pilot whales, which is now online.

Zwamborn E, Walmsley S & Whitehead H. 2023. Flanking female guides:
collective decision making in long-finned pilot whales. Animal Behaviour,

You can access this article free of charge for the next 50 days here:

Abstract: Little is understood about how social cetaceans make collective
decisions. Consensus processes are often beneficial for fitness at both a
group and individual level, but most previous studies of decision making in
whales and dolphins show evidence of a leader, frequently an individual
with greater ecological knowledge or social connectedness. We used drone
footage of long-finned pilot whales, *Globicephala melas*, off Cape Breton
Island, Nova Scotia, Canada, to examine the characteristics of initial
divers (age class/sex, relative position, accompanying calf) and the timing
of when individuals dive (i.e. dive lag) within collective group dives
(N = 73).
Resting groups of pilot whales had three-fold higher mean dive lag and
interindividual dive intervals than groups in other behavioural states.
Females initiated dives more often than expected by chance and initial
divers were most frequently located peripherally on the left or right flank
of the group. Dive lags following the initial diver had a heavily
right-skewed distri- bution, suggesting that long-finned pilot whales
within groups are often responding to a stimulus (e.g. physical leadership,
a vocal signal, an approaching vessel). These findings are consistent with
the hypothesis that unequally distributed leadership guides the temporal
patterning of the collective deep dives of pilot whales.

Please contact me if you have any questions.

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