Demography of southern Australian bottlenose dolphins living in a protected inverse estuary

Maria Passadore Real, Luciana Moller, Fernando Diaz Aguirre, Guido Parra Vergara

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    12 Citations (Scopus)


    Assessments of demographic parameters are essential to understand the dynamics of wild populations, and for their efficient conservation and management. Here, sex-specific abundance, apparent survival and temporary emigration of southern Australian bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops cf. australis) in Coffin Bay (CB), South Australia, is investigated. Results are based on capture–recapture modelling of photo-identification data and molecular analyses of biopsy samples collected during boat-based surveys between September 2013 and October 2015 in the inner and outer areas of CB. The total super-population of dolphins (including calves) using the entire study area (263 km2) was estimated with POPAN models at 306 (95% CI: 291–323), which included 71 (68–73) marked females and 57 (55–60) marked males. Seasonal estimates of abundance for the inner area of CB (123 km2) obtained with Pollock's Closed Robust Design models remained relatively constant over the two years (marked females: 52–60, marked males: 46–52, and total: 193–209). The high density of dolphins inhabiting the inner area (seasonal range: 1.57–1.70 individuals km−2), high apparent survival rates estimated for both sexes (females: 0.99; 95% CI: 0.96–1.0; males: 0.95; 0.82–0.99), and low temporary emigration rates (0.02; 95% CI: 0.01–0.11) indicate that the inner area of CB offers highly favourable habitat for these dolphins. 6-High biological productivity and low predation risk may promote these demographic patterns in the inner area of CB. 7-This study provides a robust baseline of sex-specific population demographics of southern Australian bottlenose dolphins with important implications for future research and their management and conservation in South Australia.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1186-1197
    Number of pages12
    JournalAquatic Conservation-Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
    Issue number6
    Early online date12 May 2017
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


    • Australia
    • bottlenose dolphin
    • capture–recapture
    • cetacean
    • demography
    • inshore
    • marine protected area
    • migration
    • population size
    • survival


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