Dispersal, philopatry, and the role of fission-fusion dynamics in bottlenose dolphins


(e-mail mannj2@georgetown.edu).


In this quantitative study of locational and social dispersal at the individual level, we show that bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp.) continued to use their natal home ranges well into adulthood. Despite substantial home range overlap, mother–offspring associations decreased after weaning, particularly for sons. These data provide strong evidence for bisexual locational philopatry and mother–son avoidance in bottlenose dolphins. While bisexual locational philopatry offers the benefits of familiar social networks and foraging habitats, the costs of philopatry may be mitigated by reduced mother–offspring association, in which the risk of mother–daughter resource competition and mother–son mating is reduced. Our study highlights the advantages of high fission–fusion dynamics and longitudinal studies, and emphasizes the need for clarity when describing dispersal in this and other species.