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Revista Brasileira de Zoologia

Print version ISSN 0101-8175

Abstract

DAURA-JORGE, Fábio G.; WEDEKIN, Leonardo L.; PIACENTINI, Vítor de Q.  and  SIMOES-LOPES, Paulo C.. Seasonal and daily patterns of group size, cohesion and activity of the estuarine dolphin, Sotalia guianensis (P.J. van Bénéden) (Cetacea, Delphinidae), in southern Brazil. Rev. Bras. Zool. [online]. 2005, vol.22, n.4, pp.1014-1021. ISSN 0101-8175.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0101-81752005000400029.

The resident population of estuarine dolphin, Sotalia guianensis (P.J. van Bénéden, 1864), in Norte Bay, Santa Catarina, southern Brazil, was studied from 2000 to 2003. Systematic one-day cruises were undertaken aboard a 5 m sail boat equipped with an outboard motor. Applying the focal-group method, information such as geographical position, predominant behavioural patterns, group size, cohesion index and the presence of calves, were registered at every five-minute interval, totalling 198 hours of direct observation of the dolphins. The estuarine dolphin used preferential areas for each behavioural pattern. The mean group size was approximately 29 individuals, and the presence of calves occurred throughout the entire year, but with a significant increase in the warm seasons. The frequency of behavioural patterns and group size varied according to season and time of day, and were strongly associated. The frequency of moving behaviours increased in the cold seasons and along the day. The seasonal variation in the moving behaviours suggest the requirement of a larger area in the cold seasons, probably related to seasonal fluctuations in the abundance of dominant prey items. Higher group sizes were observed while dolphins were foraging. The cohesion index also varied according to the behaviour. Our results showed that group organization and behavioural patterns of this estuarine dolphin population are probably linked to daily and seasonal environment cycles, and also possibly to the condition of being at the furthest southern limit of distribution of the species.

Keywords : Behaviour; ecology; group organization; Norte Bay; temporal patterns.

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