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Evidence that Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins self-medicate with invertebrates in coral reefs


Morlock, Gertrud E; Ziltener, Angela; Geyer, Sascha; Tersteegen, Jennifer; Mehl, Annabel; Schreiner, Tamara; Kamel, Tamer; Brümmer, Franz (2022). Evidence that Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins self-medicate with invertebrates in coral reefs. iScience, 25(6):104271.

Abstract

Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) have been observed queueing up in natural environments to rub particular body parts against selected corals (Rumphella aggregata, Sarcophyton sp.) and sponges (Ircinia sp.) in the Egyptian Northern Red Sea. It was hypothesized that the presence of bioactive metabolites accounts for this selective rubbing behavior. The three invertebrates preferentially accessed by the dolphins, collected and analyzed by hyphenated high-performance thin-layer chromatography contained seventeen active metabolites, providing evidence of potential self-medication. Repeated rubbing allows these active metabolites to come into contact with the skin of the dolphins, which in turn could help them achieve skin homeostasis and be useful for prophylaxis or auxiliary treatment against microbial infections. This interdisciplinary research in behavior, separation science, and effect-directed analysis highlighted the importance of particular invertebrates in coral reefs, the urgent need to protect coral reefs for dolphins and other species, and calls for further vertebrate-invertebrate interaction studies.

Abstract

Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) have been observed queueing up in natural environments to rub particular body parts against selected corals (Rumphella aggregata, Sarcophyton sp.) and sponges (Ircinia sp.) in the Egyptian Northern Red Sea. It was hypothesized that the presence of bioactive metabolites accounts for this selective rubbing behavior. The three invertebrates preferentially accessed by the dolphins, collected and analyzed by hyphenated high-performance thin-layer chromatography contained seventeen active metabolites, providing evidence of potential self-medication. Repeated rubbing allows these active metabolites to come into contact with the skin of the dolphins, which in turn could help them achieve skin homeostasis and be useful for prophylaxis or auxiliary treatment against microbial infections. This interdisciplinary research in behavior, separation science, and effect-directed analysis highlighted the importance of particular invertebrates in coral reefs, the urgent need to protect coral reefs for dolphins and other species, and calls for further vertebrate-invertebrate interaction studies.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Evolutionary Anthropology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Multidisciplinary
Uncontrolled Keywords:Multidisciplinary
Language:English
Date:1 June 2022
Deposited On:21 Jul 2022 12:37
Last Modified:27 Jun 2024 01:38
Publisher:Cell Press (Elsevier)
ISSN:2589-0042
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2022.104271
PubMed ID:35774533
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)