[MARMAM] New paper on the effects of human developments on individual dolphins

Enrico Pirotta pirotts at libero.it
Fri Oct 30 07:10:50 PDT 2015

Dear MARMAM colleagues,

We are pleased to announce that the following paper has been published online:

Enrico Pirotta, John Harwood, Paul M. Thompson, Leslie New, Barbara Cheney, Monica Arso, Philip S. Hammond, Carl Donovan and David Lusseau (2015). Predicting the effects of human developments on individual dolphins to understand potential long-term population consequences. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 282: 20152109.

Human activities that impact wildlife do not necessarily remove individuals from populations. They may also change individual behaviour in ways that have sub-lethal effects. This has driven interest in developing analytical tools that predict the population consequences of short-term behavioural responses. In this study, we incorporate empirical information on the ecology of a population of bottlenose dolphins into an individual-based model that predicts how individuals’ behavioural dynamics arise from their underlying motivational states, as well as their interaction with boat traffic and dredging activities. We simulate the potential effects of proposed coastal developments on this population and predict that the operational phase may affect animals’ motivational states. For such results to be relevant for management, the effects on individuals’ vital rates also need to be quantified. We investigate whether the relationship between an individual’s exposure and the survival of its calves can be directly estimated using a Bayesian multi-stage model for calf survival. The results suggest that any effect on calf survival is likely small and that a significant relationship could only be detected in large, closely-studied populations. Our work can be used to guide management decisions, accelerate the consenting process for coastal and offshore developments and design targeted monitoring. 

KEY WORDS: behavioural response, human development, individual-based modelling, individual heterogeneity, management, population consequences of disturbance

A PDF copy of the work can be downloaded from:

Please do not hesitate to contact me for any question regarding our work.

Best Regards,
Enrico Pirotta
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