We (Bristol and Zürich research groups) are lucky enough to have two papers out in Current Biology this week on bottlenose dolphin social complexity.
In the first paper, led by Bristol MSc student Emma Chereskin, we show that vocal exchanges can function as a replacement of physical bonding in dolphin alliances. This is the first evidence for Robin Dunbar's social bonding hypothesis outside of the primate lineage:
Chereskin E, Connor RC, Friedman WR, Jensen FH, Allen SJ, Sørensen PM, Krützen M, King SL (2022). Allied male dolphins use vocal exchanges to ‘bond-at-a-distance’. Current Biology https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2022.02.019
In the second paper, led by Zürich PhD graduate Livia Gerber, we show that that ‘popular’ allied male dolphins enjoy higher reproductive success:
Gerber L, Connor RC, Allen SJ, Horlacher K, King SL, Sherwin WB, Willems E, Wittwer S, Krützen M (2022). Social integration influences fitness in allied male dolphins. Current Biology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2022.03.027
A selection of press coverage below:
The Independent: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/university-of-bristol-shark-bay-bristol-b2043243.html
Daily Mail: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-10648125/Dolphins-whistle-male-bonding-ritual.html