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Male dolphins coordinate their vocal behaviour when cooperating

06.04.2020 16:45

When it comes to working together, male dolphins coordinate their behaviour just like humans, a new study done by researchers from the Universities of Bristol and Western Australia guided by Branco Weiss Fellow Stephanie King shows. The study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, provides insight into the importance of physical and vocal coordination in alliance forming animals. Previously it was thought that only humans used both physical and verbal synchronised actions to strengthen bonds and enhance cooperative effort.

The study used long-term acoustic data collected from the famous population of dolphins in Shark Bay, Western Australia, to show that male bottlenose dolphins not only synchronise their movements, but also coordinate their vocal behaviour when cooperating together in alliances. Such behaviour suggests this might help reduce tension between the males in a context that requires them to cooperate successfully.

“Male dolphins need to work together to herd a female and defend her from rival alliances, but they are also competing to fertilise her”, says Dr. Stephanie King. “Such synchronous and coordinated behaviour between allied males may therefore promote cooperative behaviour and regulate stress, as it has been shown to do in humans.”

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Read the paper on Proceedings of the Royal Society B