Bottlenose Dolphins are one species that exhibit fission-fusion social structure.

“A fission-fusion society is one in which the size and composition of the social group change as time passes and animals move throughout the environment; animals merge (fusion)—e.g., sleeping in one place—or split (fission)—e.g., foraging in small groups during the day. For species that live in fission-fusion societies, group composition is a dynamic property. (wikepedia )" Animals living in a Fission-fusion Society

  • Bottlenose Dolphins
  • African Elephants
  • Chimpanzees
  • Spotted Hyena
  • Spider Monkeys


Shark Bay has long been a research facility in Western Australia for the bottlenose dolphin. Here sexually mature males cooperate by pursuing distinct alliance strategies to monopolize females. However young juveniles pursue different mating tactics than adults and being a member of alliance is not a prerequisite for maternity. (Krutzen et al, 2004).

Spider MonkeysEdit

Long range vocal calls called ‘winnies’ are used by spider monkeys to achieve flexibility in spacing while maintaining specific social relationships (Ramos-Fernandez, 2005).

Spotted HyenasEdit

Spotted Hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) live in complex fission-fusion societies. Their dominance hierarchies affect their value as a social companion. Highest-ranking individuals are the most gregarious in both sexes. Dominants benefit from association with subordinates as well as the other way around. Resembling cercopithecine primates (Smith et al., 2007).


Chapman, C. A., White, F. J., & Wrangham, R. W. (1993). Defining subgroup size in fission-fusion societies. Folia primatologica, 61(1), 31-34.

Couzin, I. D. (2006). Behavioral ecology: social organization in fission–fusion societies. Current Biology, 16(5), R169-R171.

Krützen, M., Barré, L. M., Connor, R. C., Mann, J., & Sherwin, W. B. (2004). ‘O father: where art thou?’—Paternity assessment in an open fission–fusion society of wild bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp.) in Shark Bay, Western Australia. Molecular Ecology, 13(7), 1975-1990.

Metheny, J. D., Kalcounis-Rueppell, M. C., Willis, C. K., Kolar, K. A., & Brigham, R. M. (2008). Genetic relationships between roost-mates in a fission–fusion society of tree-roosting big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 62(7), 1043-1051.

Ramos-Fernández, G. (2005). Vocal communication in a fission-fusion society: do spider monkeys stay in touch with close associates?. International Journal of Primatology, 26(5), 1077-1092.

Smith, J. E., Memenis, S. K., & Holekamp, K. E. (2007). Rank-related partner choice in the fission–fusion society of the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 61(5), 753-765.

Effects of social disruption in elephants persist decades after culling01:29

Effects of social disruption in elephants persist decades after culling

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