Abstract

Latin American Journal of Aquatic Research, 41 (2) April 2013 (SPECIAL ISSUE)
Group structure of Guiana dolphins, Sotalia guianensis (Cetacea, Delphinidae) in Ilha Grande Bay, Rio de Janeiro, southeastern Brazil.
Cetaceans present a group structure of great complexity and display a wide behavioral plasticity. Many efforts have been made to understand the group structures of the various species, however, this type of information is still lacking for some species. Therefore, our objectives were to 1) characterize the structure of the Sotalia guianensis groups in Ilha Grande Bay, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and 2) investigate how both behavior and season influence the group structure of this population. This species is considered \"data deficient\" by the IUCN. We conducted 28 boat trips using group focal procedures, and a total of 1,314 groups were observed. Of these groups, 1,268 (94.4%) contained calves, the largest percentage ever reported for the species. Groups with calves were larger than those without them, suggesting a strategy to protect these individuals with underdeveloped physiology. The mean group sizes reached 17.6 ± 18.3 individuals. Within these groups, we observed that both behavior (H = 112.5, d.f. = 2, P < 0.05) and season (number of simulations: 10,000; sample size of fall-winter = 544; sample size of spring-summer = 684; P < 0.05), demonstrated a statistically significant influence. The most common degree of cohesion was mixed, and cohesion also varied with behavior (χ² = 10.1, P < 0.05) and season (χ² = 31.0, P < 0.05). This paper contributes towards understanding the highly variable nature of S. guianensis group dynamics. These data may be important in understanding the structure of groups in a site that is being increasingly impacted by different human activities. Moreover, this area contains the largest aggregation ever observed for this species and may therefore represent an important source of genetic diversity for the species as a whole.
Author: Rodrigo Tardin, Carine Galvão, Mariana Espécie & Sheila Simão

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