Northern Resident Killer Whale Group Cohesion (1980-2010)
Data from: Stredulinsky et al. (2021) Family feud: permanent group splitting in a highly philopatric mammal, the killer whale (Orcinus orca). Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00265-021-02992-8.
Group cohesion and demographic parameters were derived from annual censuses of Northern Resident Killer Whales (NRKW) in Pacific Canadian coastal waters, conducted by DFO's Cetacean Research Program since 1973.
For animals that tend to remain with their natal group rather than individually disperse, group sizes may become too large to benefit individual fitness. In such cases, group splitting (or fission) allows philopatric animals to form more optimal group sizes without sacrificing all familiar social relationships. Although permanent group splitting is observed in many mammals, it occurs relatively infrequently. Here, we use combined generalized modeling and machine learning approaches to provide a comprehensive examination of group splitting in a population of killer whales (Orcinus orca) that occurred over three decades. Fission occurred both along and across maternal lines, where animals dispersed in parallel with their closest maternal kin. Group splitting was more common: (1) in larger natal groups, (2) when the common maternal ancestor was no longer alive, and (3) among groups with greater substructuring. The death of a matriarch did not appear to immediately trigger splitting. Our data suggest intragroup competition for food, leadership experience, and kinship are important factors that influence group splitting in this population. Our approach provides a foundation for future studies to examine the dynamics and consequences of matrilineal fission in killer whales and other taxa.
- Publisher - Current Organization Name: Fisheries and Oceans Canada
- Publisher - Organization Section Name: Science
- Licence: Open Government Licence - Canada
Data and Resources
Stredulinsky et al. 2021 group cohesion modelling dataframeCSVEnglish dataset CSV
Stredulinsky et al. 2021 group cohesion modelling dataframeCSVFrench dataset CSV
Stredulinsky et al. 2021 predictor statisticsCSVEnglish dataset CSV
Stredulinsky et al. 2021 predictor statisticsCSVFrench dataset CSV
Data DictionaryPDFEnglish French guide PDF
ReferencesPDFEnglish French guide PDF