[MARMAM] New Publication: Broad-scale impacts of coastal mega-infrastructure project on obligatory inshore delphinids: A cautionary tale from Hong Kong

Stephen Chan scychan at cetacea-institute.org
Mon Feb 19 06:07:12 PST 2024


We are pleased
to share with you our recent publication in Science of the Total Environment.

Chan, S.C.Y.
& Karczmarski, L. (2024). Broad-scale impacts of coastal
mega-infrastructure project on obligatory inshore delphinids: A cautionary tale
from Hong Kong. Science of the Total Environment, 920, 169753.

The article
will be freely available (free to download) through this link until 08 April,



marine habitats experience considerable anthropogenic pressure, as this is
where many adverse effects of human activities concentrate. In the
rapidly-changing seascape of the Anthropocene, Hong Kong waters at the heart of
world’s fastest developing coastal region can serve as a preview-window into
coastal seas of the future, with ever-growing anthropogenic footprint. Here, we
quantify how large-scale coastal infrastructure projects can affect obligatory
inshore cetaceans, bringing about population-level consequences that may
compromise their long-term demographic viability. As a case in point, we look
at the construction of world’s longest sea crossing system and broad-scale
demographic, social and spatial responses it has caused in a shallow-water
delphinid, the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis). Soon after the
infrastructure project began, dolphins markedly altered their home range near
construction sites such that these waters no longer functioned as dolphin core
areas despite the apparent presence of prey, indicating that anthropogenic
impacts outweighed foraging benefits. The contraction of key habitats has in
turn led individuals to interact over spatially more constricted area,
reshaping their group dynamics and social network. Although there was no
apparent decline in dolphin numbers that could be detected with mark-recapture
estimates, adult survival rates decreased drastically from 0.960 to 0.904, the
lowest estimate for these animals anywhere across the region to date, notably below
the previously estimated demographic threshold of their long-term persistence
(0.955). It is apparent that during an advanced stage of this coastal
infrastructure project, dolphins were under a major anthropogenic pressure
that, if sustained, could be detrimental to their long-term persistence as a
viable demographic unit. As effective conservation of species and habitats
depends on informed management decisions, this study offers a valuable lesson
in environmental risk assessment, underscoring the implications of
human-induced rapid environmental change on obligatory inshore
delphinids—sentinels of coastal habitats that are increasingly degraded in
fast-changing coastal seas.

contact mailto:scychan at cetacea-institute.org if you have
any questions or if you need a PDF copy after the abovementioned expiry date.

Best regards,


Stephen C.Y.
Chan, PhD

Research Scientist

Research Institute, Hong Kong
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