Likely future extirpation of another Asian river dolphin: the critically endangered population of the Irrawaddy dolphin in the Mekong River is small and declining

Beasley, I., Pollock, K., Jefferson, T.A., Arnold, P., Morse, L., Sim, Y., Lor Kim, S., and Marsh, H. (2013) Likely future extirpation of another Asian river dolphin: the critically endangered population of the Irrawaddy dolphin in the Mekong River is small and declining. Marine Mammal Science, 29 (3). E226-E252.

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Abstract

The population of Irrawaddy dolphins that occupies the Mekong River in southern Lao People's Democratic Republic and Cambodia is classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. Based on capture-recapture of photo-identified individuals, we estimated that the total population numbered 93 ± SE 3.90 individuals (95% CI 86–101), as of April 2007. The combined photo-identification and carcass recovery program undertaken from 2001 to 2007 established that the Irrawaddy dolphin population inhabiting the Mekong River has reached a critical point with regards to its continued survival, where immediate research and management actions are required to greatly reduce adult mortality, and establish the cause of newborn mortality. In addition, community consultation is required to initiate, and evaluate, urgently required conservation measures. An ongoing well-designed combined program of abundance estimation (i.e., photo-identification) and carcass recovery is required to monitor total population size and mortality rates, to inform and evaluate management initiatives. The conclusions of this paper are likely generic to river dolphin populations, particularly where photo-identification is possible.

Item ID: 27165
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1748-7692
Keywords: Irrawaddy dolphin; Orcaella brevirostris; Mekong River; photo-identification; capture-recapture; abundance; mortality rates
Funders: Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Mekong River Commission Environment Program, Rufford Foundation Small Grants Program, Society for Marine Mammalogy Small Grants Program, IUCN Mekong Wetlands Biodiversity Project, James Cook University (JCU), Wildlife Conservation Society Research Fellowship Program, Marine Mammal Commission, USA
Date Deposited: 23 May 2013 23:07
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960802 Coastal and Estuarine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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