Identifying key habitats for the conservation of Chilean dolphins in the fjords of southern Chile

Francisco A. Viddi*, Robert G. Harcourt, Rodrigo Hucke-Gaete

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    In the face of environmental degradation, animals with limited plasticity are likely to be the most vulnerable. Habitat selection by the threatened, endemic Chilean dolphin (Cephalorhynchus eutropia) was investigated in the northern Patagonian fjords, an area of extraordinary biological productivity. Generalized additive models were undertaken to assess the ecological determinants of Chilean dolphin spatial distribution and habitat selection. Data were collected from dedicated fine-scale marine surveys conducted during the austral summer of 2007, 2008 and 2009 Modelling techniques provide strong support for Chilean dolphins aggregating in distinct hotspots, preferring shallow water, near rivers and in areas where the influence of tidal regime is greater. The preference for coastal shallow waters and river influenced habitats by Chilean dolphins puts them in direct conflict with a growing aquaculture industry and hydropower projects. The models predict areas of high densities of Chilean dolphins and excluding these areas from new developments would provide clear protection to the habitat most important to this poorly known endemic Chilean species.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)506-516
    Number of pages11
    JournalAquatic Conservation
    Volume26
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016

    Keywords

    • Cephalorhynchus eutropia
    • coastal
    • mammals
    • habitat selection
    • marine protected areas
    • habitat modelling
    • aquaculture
    • estuary
    • hydropower dams

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