ACOUSTIC ECOLOGY OF FORAGING BOTTLENOSE DOLPHINS (TURSIOPS TRUNCATUS), HABITAT-SPECIFIC USE OF THREE SOUND TYPES

Authors


Abstract

The function(s) of a particular sound can be explored in detail only if the context of its use is well understood. The behavior of the signaler, and the habitat in which that behavior is observed, are two of the most important components of understanding context specific use of a sound. Bottlenose dolphin foraging behavior is often inferred from relatively few behavioral cues that are visible from the surface. To investigate the use of three specific sound types: echolocation, whistles, and pops during foraging, I recorded sound use by animals engaged in a set of previously defined specific foraging behaviors using a system that allowed me to see animals throughout the water column. Lone foraging animals produced all three sounds at significantly higher rates than animals foraging in groups, and the rate of sound production per animal in multi-animal foraging groups did not vary even as the groups reached up to five individuals. Production of echolocation and pops by lone foraging animals accounted for much of the difference. Foraging dolphins also displayed habitat-specific use of particular sound types. They preferentially produced echolocation and pops in the sand habitat and, at least for lone animals, in the seagrass edge habitat.

Ancillary