Synchronous displays are hallmarks of many animal societies, ranging from the pulsing flashes of fireflies, to military marching in humans. Such displays are known to facilitate mate attraction or signal relationship quality. Across many taxa, synchronous male displays appear to be driven by competition, while synchronous displays in humans are thought to be unique in that they serve a cooperative function. Indeed, it is well established that human synchrony promotes cooperative endeavours and increases success in joint action tasks. We examine another system in which synchrony is tightly linked to cooperative behaviour. Male bottlenose dolphins form long-lasting, multi-level, cooperative alliances in which they engage in coordinated efforts to coerce single oestrus females. Previous work has revealed the importance of motor synchrony in dolphin alliance behaviour. Here, we demonstrate that allied dolphins will also engage in acoustic coordination, whereby males will actively match the production and tempo of their threat vocalisations when coercing females, and in some cases synchronise threat vocalization onset. This finding demonstrates that male dolphins are capable of acoustic coordination in a cooperative context and, moreover, suggests that both motor and acoustic coordination are features of coalitionary behaviour that are not limited to humans.
The publication provides a full description of how the data was collected and processed.
We provide a summary of each of these files in the Supplementary Material PDF associated with the publication. We also include a 'read me' worksheet in the xlsx file and have included annotated R code to help with the data analysis interpretation.