Two social communities in the Pearl River Estuary population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis)
The way human activities impact animal populations can depend on social structure, which is important to understand in social species such as cetaceans. We investigated association patterns in Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa
chinensis (Osbeck, 1765)) inhabiting the Pearl River Estuary near Lantau Island, Hong Kong, using a 10-year data set for 88 individuals. Our analyses revealed two social communities. Each had its own region of core use, to the north and to the west of the island,
but their overall ranges partially overlapped northwest of Lantau. The northern community had a fission–fusion structure characterized by short-term associations, while the western community had more long-term associations. Mixed-community groups included calves more often than exclusive
groups, so between-community associations may arise from common habitat usage, by females especially, in the overlap area. Recent range extensions by the northern community into the west are likely a response to habitat destruction north of Lantau. This suggests ease of movement between the
north and the west is necessary for northern-community dolphins to access suitable habitat, and gives new concern to construction projects planned for the region. We emphasize our study as an example of how sociobiological information can be important in understanding human impacts on animal
Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin;
analyse des réseaux sociaux;
social network analysis;
sotalie de Chine;
ségrégation de l’habitat
Document Type: Research Article
Department of Biology, Trent University, 2140 East Bank Drive, Peterborough, ON K9J 7B8, Canada.
Hong Kong Cetacean Research Project, Flat C, 22/F, Block 13, Sceneway Garden, Lam Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
FormosaCetus Research and Conservation Group, 310-7250 Yonge Street, Thornhill, ON L4J 7X1, Canada.
Natural Resources DNA Profiling and Forensic Centre, Department of Biology, Trent University, 2140 East Bank Drive, Peterborough, ON K9J 7B8, Canada.
Publication date: August 23, 2012
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