Behavior and occurrence patterns, feeding ecology, and life history of dusky dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) off Kaikoura, New Zealand.
AuthorCipriano, Frank Walter.
KeywordsDusky dolphins -- New Zealand -- Kaikoura.
Dusky dolphins -- New Zealand -- Ecology.
Dusky dolphins -- New Zealand -- Behavior.
Dusky dolphins -- New Zealand -- Geographical distribution.
Dolphins -- New Zealand.
Committee ChairThomson, Donald A.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractMy dissertation research focused on the behavior, movement patterns, and foraging ecology of dusky dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) off the east coast of New Zealand's South Island. Information on growth, morphometrics, parasites and life history was also collected. Movement patterns and foraging behavior of New Zealand dusky dolphins were much different from those of dusky dolphins observed off the Argentine coast by Bernd Wursig, the only other study of dusky dolphin behavior. Unlike the Argentine dolphins, which cooperatively herd anchovy to the surface and contain them there for feeding, New Zealand dusky dolphins behave and forage more like Hawaiian spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris). In summer and fall, New Zealand dusky dolphins remain near shore in morning and early afternoon hours, then move into deeper water with greatly increased activity levels in late afternoon. In winter and spring they remain farther from shore at all times of day, are found in somewhat larger groups, and appear to travel along shore more often than in other seasons. In summer, dive times of radio-tagged dolphins also varied on a daily cycle, most long dives occurring during crepuscular and night periods. Stomach contents of incidentally-netted and beachcast dolphins contained primarily a demersal fish and a few types of mesopelagic fishes and squid. Acoustic surveys along the east coast of South Island show a dense layer of mesopelagic fishes and squid that move to within 50-100 m of the surface at night. Like Hawaiian spinners, New Zealand dusky dolphins feed primarily on prey in and associated with the vertically migrating layer, probably as a means of increasing foraging efficiency. External measurements of L. obscurus specimens were analyzed using canonical variate analysis, which revealed measurements useful in discrimination of age/sex classes, including dorsal fin dimensions, and positioning of dorsal fin and flipper insertions. Tooth-section age analysis of specimens allowed construction of growth curves; life span maximum was about 35 years. The very large size of active testes (over 1 kg each) during summer breeding represents a large proportion of total body weight. Along with observations of group composition variability, this suggests a promiscuous mating system and a fluid, extended-group social system.
Degree ProgramEcology and Evolutionary Biology
Degree GrantorUniversity of Arizona
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