Group hunting in harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena)

Sara Torres Ortiz*, Johanna Stedt, Henrik Skov Midtiby, Henrik Dyrberg Egemose, Magnus Wahlberg

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Cooperative hunting involves individual predators relating in time and space to each other’s actions to more efficiently track down and catch prey. The evolution of advanced cognitive abilities and sociality in animals are strongly associated with cooperative hunting abilities as has been shown in lions, chimpanzees, and dolphins. Much less is known about cooperative hunting in seemingly unsocial animals, such as the harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena (Linnaeus, 1758)). Using drones, we were able to record 159 hunting sequences of porpoises, out of which 95 sequences involved more than one porpoise. To better understand if the harbour porpoises were individually attracted by the fish school or formed an organized hunting strategy, the behaviour of each individual porpoise in relation to the targeted fish school was analysed. The results indicate role specialization, which is considered the most sophisticated form of collaborative hunting and only rarely seen in animals. Our study challenges previous knowledge about harbour porpoises and opens up for the possibility of other seemingly non-social species employing sophisticated collaborative hunting methods.

TidsskriftCanadian Journal of Zoology
Udgave nummer6
Sider (fra-til)511-520
StatusUdgivet - 2. apr. 2021

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the University of Southern Denmark Lighthouse initiative, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (grant No. BS2018-0080), The Royal Physiographic Society of Lund (grant No. 39589), and The Lars Hierta Memorial Foundation (grant No. FO2018_0295).

Publisher Copyright:
© Canadian Science Publishing. All rights reserved.


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