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Prediction of suitable habitats for the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis) in the Beibu Gulf of China and Vietnam

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The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis) is a threatened coastal flagship species in Asian marine ecosystems, but the distribution of its suitable habitat remains unclear. In the present study, we characterized habitat relationships and predicted potential suitable habitats for humpback dolphins in the Beibu Gulf of China and Vietnam. Maximum entropy modeling identified six discontinuous areas in the Beibu Gulf, with a total area of 4396.8 km2, as suitable habitats for humpback dolphins. Of these, three suitable habitats covering 3948.7 km2 were known habitats, and three others covering an area of 448.1 km 2 at the border of China and Vietnam or in Vietnamese waters (Beilun River Estuary, Qinghua, and Rongshi) were newly identified. Exploratory line-transect surveys are strongly recommended to determine whether dolphins are present in these three areas. The predicted suitable habitat showed seasonal variation, which increased slightly in the dry season compared with that in the wet season. Bathymetry is the most important predictor for habitat suitability, in line with the known coastal distribution of humpback dolphins. Our research predicted specific suitable habitat distributions which can be used to develop practical protection measures, such as the establishment of marine protected areas for this species to monitor, mitigate, or prohibit harmful anthropogenic activities.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Biodiversity and Biotechnology, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Wenyuan Road 1, Qixia District, Nanjing 210023, China; Beibu Gulf Cetacean Research and Protection Center, Fourth Institute of Oceanography, Ministry of Natural Resources, Beihai 536000, China 2: Beibu Gulf Cetacean Research and Protection Center, Fourth Institute of Oceanography, Ministry of Natural Resources, Beihai 536000, China 3: National Hepu Dugong Nature Reserve administration station, 49 Gongyuan Road, Beihai 536000, China 4: Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Biodiversity and Biotechnology, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Wenyuan Road 1, Qixia District, Nanjing 210023, China; Beibu Gulf Cetacean Research and Protection Center, Fourth Institute of Oceanography, Ministry of Natural Resources, Beihai 536000, China;, Email: [email protected] 5: Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Biodiversity and Biotechnology, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Wenyuan Road 1, Qixia District, Nanjing 210023, China; Beibu Gulf Cetacean Research and Protection Center, Fourth Institute of Oceanography, Ministry of Natural Resources, Beihai 536000, China;, Email: [email protected] 6: Clymene Enterprises, 13037 Yerba Valley Way, Lakeside, California, 92040

Publication date: January 1, 2021

This article was made available online on August 19, 2020 as a Fast Track article with title: "Prediction of suitable habitats for the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis) in the Beibu Gulf of China and Vietnam".

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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