Dolphin Foraging Techniques Essay

1421 words - 6 pages

Bottlenose dolphins are known to use sea sponges as tools when foraging for food in the ocean. This behavior is referred to as “sponging”. “Sponging” refers to when these particular dolphins put a sea sponge over their rostrum (snout area) and use it to help collect food. Different explanations have been given as to why Bottlenose Dolphins engage in this behavior. It has been perceived that young dolphins learn this behavior from their mothers. Researchers are also exploring the option that a differentiation in diving skills exists between dolphins caused by variation in the mitochondrial genes processing of proteins that are involved in the creation of the Bottlenose Dolphins’ respiratory ...view middle of the document...

Once found, researchers documented the behavior of these groups and the activities that these groups partook in. Long-term photographic databases were used to establish identity, and if the dolphin was noticed to be engaged in sponging at least once, they were included in the dataset for the study. On the eastern gulf, researchers were already aware of the sponging dolphins due to previous studies. Between the years of 1994 and 2008, remote biopsy samples of sponging dolphins were taken when the opportunity to do so allowed. Using a Magellan Meridian Marine GPS device, the site that each biopsy was taken at was noted appropriately. The biopsy sample was made up of 29 sponging dolphins and 54 “non-sponging” dolphins. At a total of 83 dolphins, 59 of the dataset consisted of 24 males and 59 females. The researchers recognize that sponging is a predominantly female activity, however they observed some males engaging in the activity as well and for that reason they decided to include males in the data, as to test for possible gender influences, but genetic influence is what they researchers were truly looking to rule out. To do this they chose to examine the coxII and ctyb genes, using a Gentra Tissue kit to obtain the DNA. These two mitochondrial genes play a vital role in the respiratory chain, which is link directly to the dolphins’ metabolic energy and therefore could possibly affect the overall diving ability of the dolphins’. To test all this information they used a likelihood significance test and Chi Square significance test which took all variables, HVRI, cytb, coxII and sex, and evaluated it against prototypes of the gene make up with each variable removed in a variable by variable fashion. For a alternative inference test, they took the small sample size correction of the Aikaike Information Criterion and examined the prototypes.

Results
The study showed that both the coxII and cytb gene pairs showed that the areas that are vital for the proteins health were not affect when the amino acids were interchanged. Researchers also found that coxII haplotypes were not as abundant as HVRI haplotypes. Of the four coxII haplotypes that were found, 22 of those were polymorphic sites, while Seven haplotypes of ctyb were found containing 45 polymorphic sites. After some issues were discovered, a 1119 bp fragment was left to study. The researchers started to compare at the 22nd pair of bases. Within this sample a mutation was found, which affected the last four pairs, however researchers do not believe that this mutation is large enough to alter the make-up of all the proteins.
While the haplotypes of the coxII and the cytb genes were not found to be considerable predictors of weather a dolphin would participate in sponging or not, The HVRI haplotype was. The studied showed that all sponging dolphins in the Western Gulf shared the same haplotype of the HVRI. What’s more, with only exception, the studied proved that all dolphin sharing a...

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