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 journalArticle

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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