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Multi-network-based diffusion analysis reveals vertical cultural transmission of sponge tool use within dolphin matrilines


Wild, Sonja; Allen, Simon J; Krützen, Michael; King, Stephanie L; Gerber, Livia; Hoppitt, William J E (2019). Multi-network-based diffusion analysis reveals vertical cultural transmission of sponge tool use within dolphin matrilines. Biology Letters, 15(7):20190227.

Abstract

Behavioural differences among social groups can arise from differing ecological conditions, genetic predispositions and/or social learning. In the past, social learning has typically been inferred as responsible for the spread of behaviour by the exclusion of ecological and genetic factors. This ‘method of exclusion’ was used to infer that ‘sponging’, a foraging behaviour involving tool use in the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) population in Shark Bay, Western Australia, was socially transmitted. However, previous studies were limited in that they never fully accounted for alternative factors, and that social learning, ecology and genetics are not mutually exclusive in causing behavioural variation. Here, we quantified the importance of social learning on the diffusion of sponging, for the first time explicitly accounting for ecological and genetic factors, using a multi-network version of ‘network-based diffusion analysis'. Our results provide compelling support for previous findings that sponging is vertically socially transmitted from mother to (primarily female) offspring. This research illustrates the utility of social network analysis in elucidating the explanatory mechanisms behind the transmission of behaviour in wild animal populations.

Abstract

Behavioural differences among social groups can arise from differing ecological conditions, genetic predispositions and/or social learning. In the past, social learning has typically been inferred as responsible for the spread of behaviour by the exclusion of ecological and genetic factors. This ‘method of exclusion’ was used to infer that ‘sponging’, a foraging behaviour involving tool use in the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) population in Shark Bay, Western Australia, was socially transmitted. However, previous studies were limited in that they never fully accounted for alternative factors, and that social learning, ecology and genetics are not mutually exclusive in causing behavioural variation. Here, we quantified the importance of social learning on the diffusion of sponging, for the first time explicitly accounting for ecological and genetic factors, using a multi-network version of ‘network-based diffusion analysis'. Our results provide compelling support for previous findings that sponging is vertically socially transmitted from mother to (primarily female) offspring. This research illustrates the utility of social network analysis in elucidating the explanatory mechanisms behind the transmission of behaviour in wild animal populations.

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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
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
Life Sciences > General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Uncontrolled Keywords:Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous), General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Language:English
Date:26 July 2019
Deposited On:13 Feb 2020 14:37
Last Modified:22 Apr 2020 23:05
Publisher:Royal Society Publishing
ISSN:1744-9561
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2019.0227
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID31003A_149956
  • : Project TitleMale career moves - the genomics of cooperative behaviour and alliance formation in male bottlenose dolphins

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