A systematic approach to measuring the social behavior of bottlenose dolphins

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Samuels, Amy
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Bottlenose dolphin
Social behavior
Research on cetacean social behavior is in transition from descriptive natural history to quantitative analyses. To expedite this change, an intellectual history of the field is provided, from the early whaler-naturalists to oceanarium observations, whale carcass studies, pseudo-scientific inquiries into human-dolphin communication, and longterm field studies. Subsequent chapters illustrate use of systematic methodologies to better understand bottlenose dolphin social relations. Samuels and Gifford adapted a quantitative technique from primate behavioral research to study agonism among captive dolphins. Males were dominant to females; females had stable, age-ordered dominance relations; and two males had a changeable dominance relationship. Sex differences in dominance relations generated predictions about the behavior of wild dolphins that can be tested using this technique. Samuels, Richards and Mann investigated the association of wild juvenile dolphins with their mothers after weaning. Juvenile daughters continued to associate with their mothers, whereas juvenile sons rarely did so even though they remained in the same area as their mothers. Sex differences in juvenile association patterns appeared to foreshadow adult social networks. Samuels and Spradlin applied quantitative behavioral techniques to evaluate dolphin behavior in Swim-With-Dolphins programs. Two program types were defined by presence ("Controlled") or absence (''Not-Controlled'') of explicit trainer regulation of dolphin-with-human interactions. In "Not-Controlled" programs, the behavior of dolphins and humans theatened human safety and dolphin well-being, whereas "Controlled" programs effectively minimized behaviors that posed risk to dolphins or humans.
Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution September 1996
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Samuels, A. (1996). A systematic approach to measuring the social behavior of bottlenose dolphins [Doctoral thesis, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution]. Woods Hole Open Access Server. https://doi.org/10.1575/1912/380
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