Deep-diving beaked whales dive together but forage apart
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Echolocating animals that forage in social groups can potentially benefit from eavesdropping on other group members, cooperative foraging or social defence, but may also face problems of acoustic interference and intra-group competition for prey. Here, we investigate these potential trade-offs of sociality for extreme deep-diving Blainville′s and Cuvier's beaked whales. These species perform highly synchronous group dives as a presumed predator-avoidance behaviour, but the benefits and costs of this on foraging have not been investigated. We show that group members could hear their companions for a median of at least 91% of the vocal foraging phase of their dives. This enables whales to coordinate their mean travel direction despite differing individual headings as they pursue prey on a minute-by-minute basis. While beaked whales coordinate their echolocation-based foraging periods tightly, individual click and buzz rates are both independent of the number of whales in the group. Thus, their foraging performance is not affected by intra-group competition or interference from group members, and they do not seem to capitalize directly on eavesdropping on the echoes produced by the echolocation clicks of their companions. We conclude that the close diving and vocal synchronization of beaked whale groups that quantitatively reduces predation risk has little impact on foraging performance.
Alcázar-Treviño , J , Johnson , M , Arranz , P , Warren , V E , Pérez-González , C J , Marques , T , Madsen , P T & Aguilar de Soto , N 2021 , ' Deep-diving beaked whales dive together but forage apart ' , Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences , vol. 288 , no. 1942 , 20201905 . https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2020.1905
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by the Royal Society. This work has been made available online in accordance with publisher policies or with permission. Permission for further reuse of this content should be sought from the publisher or the rights holder. This is the author created accepted manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2020.1905.
DescriptionFunding: Data collection and analysis were performed with funds from the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR), the US National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP), the US Strategic Environmental Research Development Program (SERDP) and the Spanish Government National Projects CETOBAPH (CGL2009-13112) and DEEPCOM (CTM2017-88686-P). J.A.T. is currently the recipient of a FPU Doctoral Scholarship (FPU16/00490) from the Spanish Ministry of Universities. M.J. is supported by the Aarhus University Research Foundation and the EU H2020 research and innovation programme under Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant 754513. P.A. is funded by an Agustín de Bethencourt fellowship from the Cabildo Insular de Tenerife and NAS by a Ramón y Cajal fellowship from the Spanish Government. V.E.W. is funded by a University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship. C.J.P.G. is partially funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation (MICINN) of Spain under Grant PID2019-110442GB-I00. T.A.M. thanks partial support from CEAUL (funded by FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, Portugal, through the project UIDB/00006/2020).
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