|Marco Foronda |||May 06, 2015 07:36 AM EDT|
(Photo : National Marine Mammal Foundation) Dolphins at the National Marine Mammal Foundation in San Diego
A new study discovers that dolphins really enjoy social networks, which can be an extensive and complex of collecting friends.
Researchers at Florida Atlantic University detail the manner in which dolphin societies organize themselves. The size of a dolphin’s living space seems to determine how it interacts with others of its species, according to a 6.5-year-long study of dolphins living in a long, narrow lagoon.
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Over a six-year period, scientists used special photo-identification technology to observe and track the interactions between bottlenose dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon.
The lengthy study allowed scientists to plot the social preferences of more than 200 dolphins, revealing the unique ways dolphins organize themselves and their relationships with others. The study displayed that dolphins form into loose groups, and that these groups (and the individuals that make them up) exhibit a fondness for some peers (and their groups) and an aversion to others.
“One of the more unique aspects of our study was the discovery that the physical dimensions of the habitat, the long, narrow lagoon system itself, influenced the spatial and temporal dynamics of dolphin association patterns,” explained Elizabeth Murdoch Titcomb, a research biologist at HBOI, in a press release.
It’s been known for years that dolphins and other cetaceans are highly social and communicative. Dolphins even vocalize similar to humans.
Previous studies also stated that dolphins are one of the few animals besides humans that have culture, learning and passing on new knowledge to others of their kind.
Mapping the species' social architecture, it will help scientists better understand the flow of information among local populations. The same goes for the study of breeding behavior and the spread of disease.
Findings of the study appeared in the journal Marine Mammal Research.
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