Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

Evidence of male alliance formation in a small dolphin community

Chabanne, D.B.H.ORCID: 0000-0002-8391-7505, Krützen, M., Finn, H. and Allen, S.J. (2022) Evidence of male alliance formation in a small dolphin community. Mammalian Biology .

Free to read:
*No subscription required


The photo-identification of uniquely marked individuals has revealed much about mammalian behaviour and social structure in recent decades. In bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops spp.), for example, the long-term tracking of individuals has unveiled considerable variation in social structure among populations and various spatio-temporal aspects of group formation. In this study, we investigated associations among individual males in a small community of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (T. aduncus) residing in an urbanized estuary in southwestern Australia. Given the relative proximity of our study area to other populations in which complex male alliances form for the purpose of mate acquisition, we used long-term photo-identification records and social analyses to assess whether such alliances also occur in smaller and more isolated settings. Our work revealed strong social bonds and long-term, non-random associations among individual males, suggesting the occurrence of male alliances. Behavioural observations of alliances interacting with potentially receptive adult females from the estuary community and from adjacent communities, and exhibiting sexual display behaviours near females, suggest that these alliances occur in a reproductive context. As the first formal analysis indicating the occurrence of male alliances outside Shark Bay along the vast western coastline of Australia, this study complements previous research and extends our understanding of the evolutionary and ecological processes that drive alliance formation.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Ecosystems
Publisher: Springer Nature
Copyright: © 2022 The Authors.
Item Control Page Item Control Page


Downloads per month over past year