Behaviour 2019
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Evidence for Maternal Style in Pectoral Fin Contact in Dolphins
Kathleen M. Dudzinski1, Heather M. Hill2, Christine A. Ribic3, Teri M. Bolton4. 1Dolphin Communication Project, Port Saint Lucie, FL, United States; 2Psychology, St. Mary's University, San Antonio, TX, United States; 3Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, United States; 4Institute for Marine Sciences, Anthonys Key Resort, Roatan, , Honduras

Distinct styles have been demonstrated by mother dolphins in controlled, natural habitats based on maternal care behaviors, e.g., who initiates reunions/departures, interventions and disciplinary actions. While contact is regularly observed within a dolphin mother-calf dyad, touch has not been evaluated for use according to maternal style. From 16 years of data, we event sampled pectoral fin contacts (PFC) between mom-calf pairs from 10 matrilines housed in a natural lagoon setting at the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences, Honduras. Two-thirds of PFC is directed by calves to their mothers. While females did not initiate many contacts with their calves, there was a trend for some adult females to differ in rate of contact as initiator with their calves. Three adult females were documented to exchange PFC with calves of both sexes, each exhibiting distinct patterns of interaction. While females with only single-sex calves had the same pattern of initiation with their calves. These findings indicate that PFC is used on a limited basis in mother/calf dyads, although with distinct patterns of use suggesting evidence for maternal style in how adult females care for their offspring.