Social networks reveal cultural behaviour in tool-using using dolphins

Janet Mann, Margaret A. Stanton, Eric M. Patterson, Elisa Bienenstock, Lisa O. Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

89 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Animal tool use is of inherent interest given its relationship to intelligence, innovation and cultural behaviour. Here we investigate whether Shark Bay bottlenose dolphins that use marine sponges as hunting tools (spongers) are culturally distinct from other dolphins in the population based on the criteria that sponging is both socially learned and distinguishes between groups. We use social network analysis to determine social preferences among 36 spongers and 69 non-spongers sampled over a 22-year period while controlling for location, sex and matrilineal relatedness. Homophily (the tendency to associate with similar others) based on tool-using status was evident in every analysis, although maternal kinship, sex and location also contributed to social preference. Female spongers were more cliquish and preferentially associated with other spongers over non-spongers. Like humans who preferentially associate with others who share their subculture, tool-using dolphins prefer others like themselves, strongly suggesting that sponge tool-use is a cultural behaviour.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number980
JournalNature Communications
Volume3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 15 2012
Externally publishedYes

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dolphins
Dolphins
Porifera
Social Support
Bottle-Nosed Dolphin
Sharks
Intelligence
Mothers
sharks
network analysis
intelligence
Population
Electric network analysis
animals
Animals
tendencies
Innovation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

Cite this

Social networks reveal cultural behaviour in tool-using using dolphins. / Mann, Janet; Stanton, Margaret A.; Patterson, Eric M.; Bienenstock, Elisa; Singh, Lisa O.

In: Nature Communications, Vol. 3, 980, 15.08.2012.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Mann, Janet ; Stanton, Margaret A. ; Patterson, Eric M. ; Bienenstock, Elisa ; Singh, Lisa O. / Social networks reveal cultural behaviour in tool-using using dolphins. In: Nature Communications. 2012 ; Vol. 3.
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