[MARMAM] New publication on bottlenose dolphin behavioral adaptations to construction-related habitat degradation

Ann Weaver annstats54 at gmail.com
Tue Mar 23 13:02:19 PDT 2021

We are pleased to announce two recent contributions.

Weaver A (2021) An Ethology of Adaptation: Dolphins Stop Feeding but
Continue Socializing in Construction-Degraded Habitat. Front. Mar. Sci.
8:603229. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2021.603229

Open access publication in Frontiers in Marine Science, section Marine
Conservation and Sustainability. To view the online publication, please
click here:


Or download it from my website

ABSTRACT Adaptation is a biological mechanism by which organisms adjust
physically or behaviorally to changes in their environment to become more
suited to it. This is a report of free-ranging bottlenose dolphins’
behavioral adaptations to environmental changes from coastal construction
in prime habitat. Construction was a 5-year bridge removal and replacement
project in a tidal inlet along west central Florida’s Gulf of Mexico
coastline. It occurred in two consecutive 2.5-year phases to replace the
west and east lanes, respectively. Lane phases involved demolition/removal
of above-water cement structures, below-water cement structures, and
reinstallation of below + above water cement structures (N = 2,098 photos).
Data were longitudinal (11 years: 2005– 2016, N = 1,219 surveys 2–4
times/week/11 years, N = 4,753 dolphins, 591.95 h of observation in the
construction zone, 126 before-construction surveys, 568 during-construction
surveys, 525 after-construction surveys). The dependent variable was
numbers of dolphins (count) in the immediate construction zone. Three
analyses examined presence/absence, total numbers of dolphins, and numbers
of dolphins engaged in five behavior states (forage-feeding, socializing,
direct travel, meandering travel, and mixed states) across construction.
Analyses were GLIMMIX generalized linear models for logistic and negative
binomial regressions to account for observation time differences as an
exposure (offset) variable. Results showed a higher probability of dolphin
presence than absence before construction began, more total dolphins before
construction, and significant decreases in the numbers of feeding but not
socializing dolphins. Significant changes in temporal rhythms also revealed
finer-grained adaptations. Conclusions were that the dolphins adapted to
construction in two ways, by establishing feeding locations beyond the
disturbed construction zone and shifting temporal rhythms of behaviors that
they continued to exhibit in the construction zone to later in the day when
construction activities were minimized. This is the first study to suggest
that the dolphins learned to cope with coastal construction with variable

Weaver, A. (2020). Why Dolphins Jump. Treasure Island FL: Jaasas Academic
Press. 140 pp. Presents 170 contexts of 7 types of aerial behaviors among
free-ranging coastal bottlenose dolphins.
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