We investigated the association patterns of 48 identifiable Commerson's dolphins (Cephalorhynchus commersonii) photographed 2 or more times over a 2-year period in Bahía Engaño, Chubut, Argentina. The associations among them were not different from random for short time periods (7 days) but were significantly different from random for longer periods. Lagged identification rate and lagged association rate models show that dolphins remained in the area on average 15 days and then moved away as the original groups dissolved. Commerson's dolphins appear to have a fission–fusion society, and the observed strength of their associations is in concordance with the predictions regarding their body size and ranging patterns. The dolphins seem to rely on Bahía Engaño as a core area for most of their activities, but the aggregations are labile and some individuals remain associated in a more stable manner with only a few other individuals.
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Vol. 92 • No. 3