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Two Levels of Alliance Formation Among Male Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops sp.)

Richard C. Connor, Rachel A. Smolker and Andrew F. Richards
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 89, No. 3 (Feb. 1, 1992), pp. 987-990
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2358424
Page Count: 4
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Two Levels of Alliance Formation Among Male Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops sp.)
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Abstract

In Shark Bay, Western Australia, male bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp.) cooperate in pairs and triplets to sequester and control the movements of females. We refer to this behavior as "herding" and to the male pairs and triplets as alliances. During a 25-month study (1987-1989) on the social relationships of males, we documented herding in 10 alliances. Males preferentially herded nonpregnant females likely to be in estrus. Alliance members associated with one another consistently when not herding females. Each alliance associated preferentially with one or two other alliances. Occasionally, two alliances combined and took females from another alliance or defended females against such efforts. This study documents multiple-level male alliances within a social group outside of humans.

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