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Could relatedness help explain why individuals lead in bottlenose dolphin groups?


Lewis, Jennifer S; Wartzok, Douglas; Heithaus, Michael; Krützen, Michael (2013). Could relatedness help explain why individuals lead in bottlenose dolphin groups? PLoS ONE, 8(3):e58162.

Abstract

In many species, particular individuals consistently lead group travel. While benefits to followers often are relatively obvious, including access to resources, benefits to leaders are often less obvious. This is especially true for species that feed on patchy mobile resources where all group members may locate prey simultaneously and food intake likely decreases with increasing group size. Leaders in highly complex habitats, however, could provide access to foraging resources for less informed relatives, thereby gaining indirect benefits by helping kin. Recently, leadership has been documented in a population of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) where direct benefits to leaders appear unlikely. To test whether leaders could benefit indirectly we examined relatedness between leader-follower pairs and compared these levels to pairs who associated but did not have leader-follower relationship (neither ever led the other). We found the average relatedness value for leader-follower pairs was greater than expected based on chance. The same was not found when examining non leader-follower pairs. Additionally, relatedness for leader-follower pairs was positively correlated with association index values, but no correlation was found for this measure in non leader-follower pairs. Interestingly, haplotypes were not frequently shared between leader-follower pairs (25%). Together, these results suggest that bottlenose dolphin leaders have the opportunity to gain indirect benefits by leading relatives. These findings provide a potential mechanism for the maintenance of leadership in a highly dynamic fission-fusion population with few obvious direct benefits to leaders.

Abstract

In many species, particular individuals consistently lead group travel. While benefits to followers often are relatively obvious, including access to resources, benefits to leaders are often less obvious. This is especially true for species that feed on patchy mobile resources where all group members may locate prey simultaneously and food intake likely decreases with increasing group size. Leaders in highly complex habitats, however, could provide access to foraging resources for less informed relatives, thereby gaining indirect benefits by helping kin. Recently, leadership has been documented in a population of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) where direct benefits to leaders appear unlikely. To test whether leaders could benefit indirectly we examined relatedness between leader-follower pairs and compared these levels to pairs who associated but did not have leader-follower relationship (neither ever led the other). We found the average relatedness value for leader-follower pairs was greater than expected based on chance. The same was not found when examining non leader-follower pairs. Additionally, relatedness for leader-follower pairs was positively correlated with association index values, but no correlation was found for this measure in non leader-follower pairs. Interestingly, haplotypes were not frequently shared between leader-follower pairs (25%). Together, these results suggest that bottlenose dolphin leaders have the opportunity to gain indirect benefits by leading relatives. These findings provide a potential mechanism for the maintenance of leadership in a highly dynamic fission-fusion population with few obvious direct benefits to leaders.

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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:2013
Deposited On:10 Feb 2014 13:20
Last Modified:03 Aug 2017 16:20
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0058162
PubMed ID:23516445

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Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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