|Demographics of the disappearing bottlenose dolphin in Argentina: a common species on its way out?|In: PLoS One. Public Library of Science: San Francisco. ISSN 1932-6203; e-ISSN 1932-6203, meer
Tursiops truncatus (Montagu, 1821) [WoRMS]
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Populations of the once common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) in Argentina have precipitously declined throughout the country in the past decades. Unfortunately, local declines of common species are easily overlooked when establishing priorities for conservation. In this study, demographics of what may well be the last remaining resident population in the country were assessed using mark-recapture analysis (Pollock's Robust Design) of a photo-identification dataset collected during 2006-2011 in Bahia San Antonio (Patagonia, Argentina). Total abundance, corrected for unmarked individuals, ranged from 40 (95% CI: 16.1-98.8) to 83 (95% CI = 45.8-151.8) individuals and showed a decrease over the years. Adult survival rates varied between 0.97 (+/- 0.037 SE) and 0.99 (+/- 0.010 SE). Average calving interval equalled 3.5 +/- 1.03 years, with 3.5 births/year in the entire population and a minimum annual birth rate of 4.2%. However, data suggest that calves may have been born and lost before being documented, underestimating birth rate, calf mortality, and possibly the number of reproductive females. Either way, the recruitment rate of calves appears to be insufficient to support the size of the population. This population is relatively small and declining. Considering the disappearance of populations north and south of the study area, an incessant decline will have severe consequences for the continuous existence of this species in Argentina, indicating an urgent need for serious conservation efforts. This study provides insight into how the failure to recognize local population declines can threaten the national (and eventually the international) status of a common species like the bottlenose dolphin.