Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Habitat use of culturally distinct Galápagos sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus clans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

DOI

Open Access Status

  • Embargoed (until 7/01/20)

Abstract

Ecological niche is traditionally defined at the species level, but individual niches can vary considerably within species. Research on intra-specific niche variation has been focussed on intrinsic drivers. However, differential transmission of socially learned behaviours can also lead to intra-specific niche variation. In sperm whales Physeter macrocephalus, social transmission of information is thought to generate culturally distinct clans, which at times occur sympatrically. Clans have distinct dialects, foraging success rates, and movement patterns, but whether the niches of clan members are also different remains unknown. We evaluated the differences in habitat use of clans off the Galápagos Islands, using data collected over 63 encounters between 1985 and 2014. During encounters, we recorded geographic positions, determined clan identity through analysis of group vocalizations and individual associations, and used topographical and oceanographic variables as proxies of sperm whale prey distribution. We used logistic generalized additive models, fitted with generalized estimating equations to account for spatiotemporal autocorrelation, to predict clan identity as a function of the environment descriptors. Oceanographic variables marginally contributed to differentiating clans. Clan identity could be predicted almost entirely based on geographic location. This fine-scale, within-region spatial partitioning likely derives from whales preferring areas where members of their clans occur over temporal scales of a few months to a few years. By identifying differences in clans’ space use, we have uncovered another level of sperm whale life that is likely influenced by their cultural nature.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-270
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
Volume609
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2019

    Research areas

  • Habitat preference, Cetacean, Culture, Generalized additive model, GAM, Generalized estimating equation, GEE, Galápagos

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Animal cultures matter for conservation

    Brakes, P., Dall, S. R. X., Aplin, L. M., Bearhop, S., Carroll, E. L., Ciucci, P., Fishlock, V., Ford, J. K. B., Garland, E. C., Keith, S. A., McGregor, P. K., Mesnick, S. L., Noad, M. J., Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., Robbins, M. M., Simmonds, M. P., Spina, F., Thornton, A., Wade, P. R., Whiting, M. J. & 5 othersWilliams, J., Rendell, L., Whitehead, H., Whiten, A. & Rutz, C., 8 Mar 2019, In : Science. 363, 6431, p. 1032-1034 5 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Kinship and association do not explain vocal repertoire variation among individual sperm whales or social units

    Konrad, C. M., Frasier, T. R., Rendell, L., Whitehead, H. & Gero, S., Nov 2018, In : Animal Behaviour. 145, p. 131-140 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Tail walking in a bottlenose dolphin community: the rise and fall of an arbitrary cultural 'fad'

    Bossley, M., Steiner, A., Brakes, P., Shrimpton, J., Foster, C. & Rendell, L., Sep 2018, In : Biology Letters. 14, 9, 5 p., 20180314.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Social learning strategies: bridge-building between fields

    Kendal, R., Boogert, N., Rendell, L., Laland, K. N., Webster, M. & Jones, P., Jul 2018, In : Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 22, 7, p. 651-665 15 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  5. Presence of an audience and consistent interindividual differences affect archerfish shooting behaviour

    Jones, N. A. R., Webster, M., Templeton, C. N., Schuster, S. & Rendell, L., Jul 2018, In : Animal Behaviour. 141, p. 95-103 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Context-dependent reduction in somatic condition of wild Atlantic salmon infested with sea lice

    Susdorf, R., Salama, N., Todd, C. D., Hillman, R., Elsmere, P. & Lusseau, D., 15 Nov 2018, In : Marine Ecology Progress Series. 606, p. 91-104

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Cumulative effects of cyclones and bleaching on coral cover and species richness at Lizard Island

    Madin, J. S., Baird, A. H., Bridge, T. C. L., Connolly, S. R., Zawada, K. J. A. & Dornelas, M., 4 Oct 2018, In : Marine Ecology Progress Series. 604, p. 263-268 6 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Effects of tropical storms on the demography of reef corals

    Baird, A. H., Alvarez-Noriega, M., Cumbo, V. R., Connolly, S. R., Dornelas, M. & Madin, J. S., 15 Nov 2018, In : Marine Ecology Progress Series. 606, p. 29-38 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Marine Ecology Progress Series (Journal)

    Sophie Caroline Smout (Reviewer)
    1 Mar 201630 Mar 2016

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  2. Marine Ecology Progress Series (Journal)

    Nora Nell Hanson (Reviewer)
    Dec 2013

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  3. Marine Ecology Progress Series (Journal)

    Andrew Stuart Brierley (Editor)
    20092011

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

ID: 257396145