Abstract # 181:

Scheduled for Monday, September 15, 2014 10:25 AM-10:45 AM: Session 24 (Decatur A) Oral Presentation


SOCIAL TRANSMISSION OF FORAGING TACTICS IN BOTTLENOSE DOLPHINS: NETWORK AND DEVELOPMENTAL APPROACHES

J. Mann, E. M. Patterson, C. Newport and L. O. Singh
Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20057, USA
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     Demonstrating social learning in wild cetaceans is challenging given the inherent difficulties of observational and experimental research. Using focal (62 mothers, 104 offspring) and survey data on 1000+ wild bottlenose dolphins (studied from 1984-2014 in Shark Bay, Australia), we investigated maternal and non-maternal influences on the occurrence and development of two foraging behaviors: sponge tool use and snacking. Sponge tool use is occurs in ~4% of the population in the eastern gulf and in deep channel habitat. In contrast, snacking has been observed in 16% of the population and occurs in all habitats. Using surveys, we examined ‘snacker’ and ‘sponger’ networks over time. Given that the dolphin network has high density and short path lengths, information flow is expected to be robust. Despite this physical topology, where snackers and spongers commonly associated, only a few dolphins used both foraging tactics. Association alone does not explain foraging patterns. Focal data showed that of a mother sponger’s foraging budget, the time she spent sponging predicted whether or not her offspring became a sponger (MCMC GLMM; p<0.01). Sponging is vertically transmitted and female biased. Snacking however, appears to be mostly laterally transmitted and without sex bias. To help explain these patterns at the meso- (network) and micro- (individual) level, interactions between social, genetic, ecological, life history, and behavioral factors will be discussed.