Maternal kinship and fisheries interaction influence killer whale social structure
2016 (English)In: Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, ISSN 0340-5443, E-ISSN 1432-0762, Vol. 70, no 1, 111-122 p.Article in journal (Refereed) PublishedText
The primary prey of killer whales (Orcinus orca) in the Strait of Gibraltar is the bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus). All killer whales observed in this area hunt tuna by chasing individual fish until they become exhausted and can be overcome. However, a subset of pods also interact with a dropline tuna fishery which has developed since 1995. Here, we investigated the social structure within and among social units (pods). Our data suggested that social structure was shaped by maternal kinship, which appears to be a species-specific trait, but also by foraging behavior, which is less common at the intra-population level. At the start of the study, only one cohesive pod interacted with the fishery, which during the course of the study underwent fission into two socially differentiated pods. Social structure within these two fishery-interacting pods was more compact and homogenous with stronger associations between individuals than in the rest of the population. Three other pods were never seen interacting with the fishery, despite one of these pods being regularly sighted in the area of the fishery during the summer. Sociality can influence the spread of the novel foraging behaviors and may drive population fragmentation, which, in this example, is already a critically small community. Observations of social changes in relation to changes in foraging at the earliest stages of diversification in foraging behavior and social segregation may provide insights into the processes that ultimately result in the formation of socially isolated discrete ecotypes in killer whales.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 70, no 1, 111-122 p.
Social organization, Social dynamics, Killer whale, Orcinus orca, Foraging
Evolutionary Biology Ecology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-275559DOI: 10.1007/s00265-015-2029-3ISI: 000367686200010OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-275559DiVA: diva2:900491