Dolphin Memories Span at Least 20 Years

first_imgEver been at a party where you recognize everyone’s faces but can’t think of their names? That wouldn’t happen if you were a bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). The marine mammals can remember each other’s signature contact whistles—calls that function as names—for more than 20 years, the longest social memory ever recorded for a nonhuman animal, according to a new study.“The ability to remember individuals is thought to be extremely important to the ‘social brain,’ ” says Janet Mann, a marine mammal biologist at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., who was not involved in the research. Yet, she notes, no one has succeeded in designing a test for this talent in the great apes—our closest kin—let alone in dolphins.Dolphins use their signature whistles to stay in touch. Each has its own unique whistle, and they learn and can repeat the whistles of other dolphins. A dolphin will answer when another dolphin mimics its whistle—just as we reply when someone calls our name. The calls enable the marine mammals to communicate over long distances—which is necessary because they live in “fission-fusion” societies, meaning that dolphins in one group split off to join other groups and later return. By whistling, they’re able to find each other again. Scientists don’t know how long dolphins are separated in the wild, but they do know the animals can live almost 50 years. 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The six sites belong to a consortium that rotates the marine mammals for breeding and has decades-long records of which dolphins have lived together. The dolphins ranged in age from 4 months to 47 years and included males and females. Some of the animals had spent as little as 3 months together; others had been housed with each other for as long as 18.5 years before being separated and sent to another facility; and some had been apart for 20.5 years.At each facility, Bruck placed a submerged speaker in the dolphins’ pool and waited for one of the animals to swim past. He then played a recording of a whistle that the dolphin had never heard before. “They don’t pay much attention to signature whistles of dolphins they don’t know,” he says. But when he played the whistle of a dolphin they had once lived with, the animals often swam immediately to the speaker. “They will hover around it, whistle at it, seemingly try to get a response,” he says.Bruck also played recordings of an unfamiliar dolphin that was the same age and sex as the familiar animal—but these also did not elicit much of a response. “It was a striking pattern,” Bruck says. “They were potentially bored by unfamiliar calls but responded to whistles from the animals they’d known,” even if they had not heard the whistles in decades. “It seemed to be stimulating to them. In Bermuda, a mother dolphin even brought her calf over to listen to the whistles of dolphins she’d known,” Bruck says. Sometimes the dolphins got upset, slapping their tails in protest, when Bruck removed the speaker from the pool; but they quickly settled down again after he put it back in the water.In one case, Bruck played the whistle of Allie, a female dolphin at the Brookfield Zoo, for Bailey, a female in Bermuda. They had lived together at the Dolphin Connection in the Florida Keys when Allie was 4 and Bailey was 2. Twenty years and 6 months had passed—yet Bailey instantly recognized Allie’s whistle, Bruck says, as evidenced by her close attentiveness to the speaker.The dolphins often responded as if they were picturing their long-ago social pals, Bruck reports online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. For instance, two younger dolphins, Kai and D.J., became watchful and alert when they heard the whistles of Lucky and Hastings, two dominant males they had spent time with at the Brookfield Zoo. “Their whistles elicit a certain vigor and spirit in males that hear them,” says Bruck about the responses of Kai and D.J. “It looked as if those whistles put the image of those two dominant males in the heads of Kai and D.J.,” although he adds this has yet to be shown experimentally.The study demonstrates the “long-term stability of the dolphins’ whistles,” Mann says. “Even though dolphins may change in size and physical characteristics—getting scars and speckles—their whistles provide a reliable means of identification.” And that in turn enables them to “track relationships and connections between individuals,” she says. “We know they have relationships in the wild that last decades,” adds Richard Connor, an animal behaviorist at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. “Remembering a particular individual—even in the absence of that individual—could help them navigate their current social milieu.”Bruck’s study, however, did not test whether the dolphins mentally picture the correct dolphin when they hear his or her signature whistle. So far, scientists have only been able to demonstrate this ability in horses. Researchers from the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom videoed individual horses while a herd member was led past them and out of view. The scientists then played the whinny of that horse or of a different horse. If the whinny was from the horse that had just walked by, the watching horse continued doing whatever it had been doing before; but if the whinny came from a different stable-mate, the watcher instantly turned to look in the direction of the call, as if saying, “that didn’t sound like you.”A similar experiment now needs to be done with dolphins, says Stephanie King, a biologist at the University of St. Andrews in the United Kingdom. She wonders if the animals are paying attention to the whistles of their former pool-pals because the sounds are familiar—or because they “evoke a mental representation of the absent animal in the dolphin’s mind.” In other words, does Kai mentally picture Lucky when he hears the dominant male’s brassy whistle erupting from the speaker? Or does he merely register, “That call takes me right back to Chicago.” Stay tuned—Bruck has a test in the works to find out.last_img read more

Employees unique skills and expertise determine w

first_imgEmployees’ unique skills and expertise determine what software they will deliver, how profitable it will be for the company and what benefits it will bring to the customer.Employees create a collaborative culture in software development. Dynamic collaboration is the basis of the popular DevOps strategy that puts together software development and software operations. And although tools can support DevOps, only people can make it alive by spreading the collaborative culture.Employees build up customer relationships. Collaboration in software development supposes active interaction with customers. And only employees can ensure an individual approach to each customer, thus forging long-term partnerships.When tools outdo peopleHuman collaboration can exist without tools. However, collaboration tools offer teams and an entire software development company several advantages.Connecting people remotely. Team members differ by character, position, communication habits, interests, so it can be hard for them to collaborate in person. Fortunately, with a tool on their hands, employees can collaborate even without meeting each other.Keeping collaboration records. Once people stop their communication, it’s only saved in their minds. So even two days later, it’s hard to remember in detail what was discussed. Tools allow recording all the collaboration so that employees review and reuse it or its components at any moment.Support teams’ unity. Using tools, newcomers can assimilate with other team members and get involved in a software development project quicker.Enable continuous collaboration between a software development company and their customers. Tools support collaboration regardless of physical location of the involved parties. Five critical requirements to collaboration tools in software developmentAs you can see, the role of collaboration tools in the software development process is essential. But there is a certain risk too. For example, if a team member doesn’t fit the project requirements, he or she can be replaced quickly with no impact on the project. But if a collaboration tool is ineffective, it can take some time to identify the problem and to replace the tool.So choosing tools, make sure they meet the following requirements:Cover different collaboration scenarios. To ensure quality software development services, the company should enable quality collaboration between all the stakeholders. So collaboration tools should support BAs-to-developers, PMs-to-BAs, PMs-to-customers and other collaboration scenarios equally well.Structure collaboration. When collaboration becomes massive, it’s critical to structure it and make it suitable for further reuse. For example, threads in such collaboration tools as Microsoft Teams or Slack allow finding relevant pieces of information by subtopics.Meet collaboration habits of different users. Software developers are usually introverts and aren’t interested in communication, while business analysts can be quite chatty. So consider implementing a tool that will support collaboration adepts and won’t annoy closed-off employees, along with keeping them tuned into the project.Enable external users to participate. When customers participate in the software development process actively, collaboration tools should be available for them too.Integrate with other solutions. If a collaboration tool is integrated with other enterprise systems (a CRM, ERP or a project management system), you can manage a project taking into consideration all the information about the customer and previous communication experience.Support the synergy of people and toolsAs you can see, collaboration tools are often indispensable to lead the software development project to success. They can structure collaboration, make it manageable and reusable. At the same time, the human factor is crucial. If a team is disintegrated even effective tools can’t guarantee success. That’s why organizations should support the synergy of employees and collaboration tools and to foster a collaborative culture to reach positive results. The success of a software development project depends on individual skills of the dedicated specialists, as well as on how effectively they complement each other and collaborate. At the same time, collaboration itself often rolls within collaboration tools. The latter not only determine how collaboration flows but also can turn it into a flexible business process.So what is more important in software development collaboration: employees’ expertise and communication skills or a correctly selected collaboration tool that powers team members and leads them to success?When people outdo toolsEmployees are the most valuable asset in a software development company, which can be proved by several facts.last_img read more