Improved monitoring of endangered Ganges river dolphin

May 8, 2014
Improved monitoring of endangered Ganges river dolphin
A Ganges river dolphin. Credit: Mansur/WCS Bangladesh

(Phys.org) —A new study reveals a method to improve the monitoring of the endangered Ganges river dolphin – one of only four remaining freshwater cetaceans since the Yangtze River dolphin became extinct in 2007.

Research author, Nadia Richman, who is a scientist at the Zoological Society of London and also a PhD student at Bangor University's School of Environment, Natural Resources & Geography said:

"Freshwater cetaceans occupy some of the most densely populated and polluted river systems in the world. We need to make decisions about the best way to manage these species before another becomes extinct. However, these decisions need to be based on evidence which means we need methods that can detect changes in size in the quickest time possible and for the least cost."

The ability to detect changes in population size of a species helps to inform conservationists how fast a population is declining, and whether a conservation action has been effective in stopping a decline.

Previously it was believed that visual survey methods - reliant on conservationists spotting and recording surfacing dolphins - were the most cost-effective way of surveying the species. The study revealed that detecting the sound that dolphins emit using a called a combined visual-acoustic survey, can improve the ability to detect population trends and relatively quickly become the cheapest method for surveying.

Improved monitoring of endangered Ganges river dolphin
A Ganges River Dolphin. Credit: Mansur/WCS Bangladesh

The study was undertaken by scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Bangor University, the University of Chittagong in Bangladesh, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the Bangladesh Cetacean Diversity Project, and the Fisheries Research Agency of Japan recently in South Asian River dolphins in the rivers of Southern Bangladesh.

Nadia added: "I chose to come and study in the School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography at Bangor University given its reputation as an interdisciplinary research centre. Over the last three years I have met a diverse range of researchers with a broad range of expertise which has meant that I am never short of advice when needed."

These findings have been published (7th of May) in the journal PLOS ONE.

Explore further: Bangladesh to set up dolphin sanctuaries

More information: Richman NI, Gibbons JM, Turvey ST, Akamatsu T, Ahmed B, et al. (2014) "To See or Not to See: Investigating Detectability of Ganges River Dolphins Using a Combined Visual-Acoustic Survey." PLoS ONE 9(5): e96811. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0096811

Related Stories

Bangladesh to set up dolphin sanctuaries

October 31, 2011

Bangladesh will declare three river areas in its southwest as dolphin sanctuaries, wildlife officials said Monday, in a bid to protect the country's population of endangered freshwater cetaceans.

Yangtze dolphin's decline mirrored by other animals

August 13, 2012

(Phys.org) -- Monitoring numbers of the baiji, the now-extinct freshwater dolphin of the Yangtze river, would also have let researchers track the decline of other threatened animals, including the Yangtze paddlefish and Reeves' ...

Recommended for you

Mammal long thought extinct in Australia resurfaces

December 15, 2017

A crest-tailed mulgara, a small carnivorous marsupial known only from fossilised bone fragments and presumed extinct in NSW for more than century, has been discovered in Sturt National Park north-west of Tibooburra.

Finding a lethal parasite's vulnerabilities

December 15, 2017

An estimated 100 million people around the world are infected with Strongyloides stercoralis, a parasitic nematode, yet it's likely that many don't know it. The infection can persist for years, usually only causing mild symptoms. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.