Presentation Title

Social Association Patterns of Bottlenose Dolphins in Bocas del Toro Panama

Presenter's Name(s)

Erin PowellFollow

Abstract

Bottlenose dolphins live in fission-fusion societies, in which individuals in small groups that change composition often on daily or hourly basis. Because these associations are strongly dependent on context, we can gain insights on residency patterns of individual dolphins and identify key members of the population that are at the center of their society. This study uses long-term photo-ID data (2004-2014) to study the association patterns of 50 of the resident bottlenose dolphins in the Archipelago of Bocas del Toro in Panama using the Half Weight Association Index (HWI). The results indicate the possible presence of two dolphin communities within the Archipelago one outside Dolphin Bay (n=8) with low association values and another resident to Dolphin Bay and nearby areas (n=42) with multiple associations above 0.8. Dolphin Bay is an important habitat for these dolphins it provides safety from predators and abundance food resources. Therefore, the observed relationships may be the result of home-range overlap. Future studies should include information on sex, kinship, behavior, and home range to better identify the factor driving these relationships. This is important, as Dolphin Bay dolphins are frequently targeted by dolphin watching boats, in which encounters have resulted in deadly collisions.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Laura May Collado

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Arts and Sciences

Program/Major

Zoology

Primary Research Category

Biological Sciences

Second College (optional)

College of Arts and Sciences

Second Program/Major

Anthropology

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Social Association Patterns of Bottlenose Dolphins in Bocas del Toro Panama

Bottlenose dolphins live in fission-fusion societies, in which individuals in small groups that change composition often on daily or hourly basis. Because these associations are strongly dependent on context, we can gain insights on residency patterns of individual dolphins and identify key members of the population that are at the center of their society. This study uses long-term photo-ID data (2004-2014) to study the association patterns of 50 of the resident bottlenose dolphins in the Archipelago of Bocas del Toro in Panama using the Half Weight Association Index (HWI). The results indicate the possible presence of two dolphin communities within the Archipelago one outside Dolphin Bay (n=8) with low association values and another resident to Dolphin Bay and nearby areas (n=42) with multiple associations above 0.8. Dolphin Bay is an important habitat for these dolphins it provides safety from predators and abundance food resources. Therefore, the observed relationships may be the result of home-range overlap. Future studies should include information on sex, kinship, behavior, and home range to better identify the factor driving these relationships. This is important, as Dolphin Bay dolphins are frequently targeted by dolphin watching boats, in which encounters have resulted in deadly collisions.