Monday, April 15, 2019

Responses of two species of dolphins to novel video footage: No differences observed for the percentage of time spent watching; males displayed a higher rate of aggressive behaviors than females

Behavioral responses of two species of dolphins to novel video footage: An exploration of sex differences. Kelley A. Winship, Holli C. Eskelinen. Zoo Biology, Vol 37, Issue 6, Nov/Dec 2018, Pages 399-407.

Abstract: This study assessed the interest toward novel video clips as enrichment stimuli in two species of captive dolphins (Tursiops: n = 11; Steno: n = 5). Videos were played at underwater viewing windows while the animals were housed with conspecifics, and responses were subsequently analyzed based on general content of each novel video. Interest levels (i.e., percentage of time watching and behavioral rate) were compared between species and within species across video categories. While the varied video contexts did not produce significant differences among the time spent watching or behaviors observed, species differences and sex differences were noted. Rough‐toothed dolphins displayed significantly more behaviors, particularly interest and bubble behaviors, than bottlenose dolphins, with no differences observed between the species for the percentage of time spent watching. Among bottlenose dolphins, males watched the television longer, and responded behaviorally significantly more, displaying a higher rate of bubble and aggressive behaviors than females. Male rough‐toothed dolphins displayed significantly more aggressive behaviors than females, with no other sex differences noted. Overall, these data suggest that television may serve as a useful enrichment device for certain individuals and species of cetaceans, as well as a cognitive experimental tool, as long as sex, species, and individual differences are taken into consideration when interpreting results.

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