Dolphins Form Largest Alliance Network Outside Humans, Study Finds
Published:07 Sep.2022    Source:ScienceDaily
Male bottlenose dolphins form the largest known multi-level alliance network outside humans, an international team led by researchers at the University of Bristol have shown. These cooperative relationships between groups increase male access to a contested resource.
Male dolphins in Shark Bay form first-order alliances of two-three males to cooperatively pursue consortships with individual females. Second-order alliances of four-14 unrelated males compete with other alliances over access to female dolphins and third-order alliances occur between cooperating second-order alliances.

Not only have we shown that male bottlenose dolphins form the largest known multilevel alliance network outside humans, but that cooperative relationships between groups, rather than simply alliance size, allows males to spend more time with females, thereby increasing their reproductive success.It show that the duration over which these teams of male dolphins consort females is dependent upon being well-connected with third-order allies, that is, social ties between alliances leads to long-term benefits for these males.