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


Kopps, Anna M; Krützen, Michael; Allen, Simon J; Bacher, Kathrin; Sherwin, William B (2014). Characterizing the socially transmitted foraging tactic “sponging” by bottlenose dolphins (Tursiopssp.) in the western gulf of Shark Bay, Western Australia. Marine Mammal Science, 30(3):847-863.

Abstract

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 characterize 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 mo 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.

Abstract

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 characterize 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 mo 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.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Anthropology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:17 Jan 2014 11:07
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:22
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0824-0469
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/mms.12089

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