Coordinated Breathing in Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) as Cooperation: Integrating Proximate and Ultimate Explanations

Amir Perelberg and Richard Schuster

In this study, coordinated breathing was studied in 13 common bottlenose dolphins because of its links with spontaneous coordinated behaviors (e.g., swimming, foraging, and playing). A strong link was shown between dyadic coordination levels and age/sex categories when both association patterns and spatial formation are considered. This is consistent with a significant influence of social relationships on cooperating and contrasts with an economic perspective based on immediate material outcomes alone. This cooperation bias is explained by linking proximate processes that evoke performance with ultimate evolutionary processes driven by long-term adaptive outcomes. Proximate processes can include 2 kinds of immediate outcomes: material reinforcements and affective states associated with acts of cooperating that can provide positive reinforcement regardless of immediate material benefits (e.g., when there is a time lag between cooperative acts and material outcomes). Affective states can then be adaptive by strengthening social relationships that lead to eventual gains in fitness.

March, 2009
Published in: 
Journal of Comparative Psychology 122 (2) (2008), 109–120.