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Nocturnal Vocal Activity in Captive Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus): Could Dolphins have Presleep Choruses?

Abstract : Nocturnal vocal activity in dolphins is often thought to be associated with feeding activity. However, when no food resources are available dolphins spend their time for the most part resting/sleeping. While unihemispherically sleeping, dolphins mostly swim slowly and synchronously in close proximity with one or more other individuals. Although vocal activity is lower during resting/sleeping, dolphins are not entirely silent the entire night. However, nothing is known about the temporal patterning of vocal activity at night and its potential relation with activity in dolphins. Here we recorded the vocal activity of a group of five captive bottlenose dolphins at night while having no feeding opportunity, examined whether there was any temporal pattern and/or a relation with breathing activity, used here as an index of overall activity. The temporal pattern revealed two peaks of intense whistle activity (8 p.m. and midnight), which were followed by a strong decrease of whistle rate and a slight decrease of respiration rate. We suggest that the high vocal activity at the peak periods might indicate socializing periods and that dolphins, like many other species, show periods of increased social and vocal interactions (chorusing?) before starting to rest/sleep, maybe to ensure the synchrony of slow swimming observed in this species. These findings contribute to a better understanding of nocturnal vocal activity in cetaceans and suggest new lines of research on vocal/social activity of dolphins in relation to presleep and resting behavior.
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Submitted on : Friday, August 26, 2016 - 1:38:51 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 9, 2020 - 4:08:04 PM
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Dorothee Kremers, Margarita Briseño Jaramillo, Martin Böye, Alban Lemasson, Martine Hausberger. Nocturnal Vocal Activity in Captive Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus): Could Dolphins have Presleep Choruses?. Animal Behavior and Cognition, 2014, 1 (4), pp.464-469. ⟨10.12966/abc.11.04.2014⟩. ⟨hal-01229386⟩

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