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Critical Foraging Habitats of Pantropical Spotted Dolphins (Stenella attenuata graffmani) in a Tropical Fjord: Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

Lenin E. Oviedo Correa1,2, David Herra-Miranda2, Juan Diego Pacheco-Polanco2, Maria Gabriela Silva2 and Leszek Karczmarski1
1. Cetacean Ecology Lab. The Swire Institute of Marine Science, The University of Hong Kong 2. Vida Silvestre Golfo Dulce, Golfo Dulce Costa Rica

Lenin Enrique Oviedo Correa PhD Candidate Cetacean Ecology Lab The Swire Institute of Marine Science The University of Hong Kong

Habitat structure influences the energy acquisition and predation risk


Predictable Resources

Variable Resources

Resident Communities

Wide-Ranging Communities

Small Areas

Predator Risk High

Predator Risk Reduced

Scramble Competition: High

Scramble Competition reduced by Cooperative Foraging

Small Group Sizes Intermediate Communities

Large groups

Karczmarski et al 2005; Gowans, Wrsig, Karczmarski 2008

Critical Habitats: Areas with properties that facilitate


population ecological fitness
Breeding Foraging m2 m1 Foraging

m3

1 - m2

High 1 m1 Density

Low
Modified from Hoyt (2011)

Dolphin Foraging Habitat Assessment off Osa Peninsula and Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

The identification of critical habitats for local cetacean fauna represents the basis of the design and implementation of Marine Protected Areas.

Costa Rica

Eastern Tropical Pacific

Golfo Dulce: Tropical Fjord

Golfo Dulce DEM by Amaru Marques Artavia

Sightings data were collected opportunistically off Osa Peninsula (2001-2006, n= 1247) and through systematic surveys in Golfo Dulce (2005-2011, n= 102).

Oviedo et al (2009) REVMAR

Sightings data were collected opportunistically off Osa Peninsula (2001-2006, n= 1247) and through systematic surveys in Golfo Dulce (2005-2011, n= 102).
Regional (meso) scale S. a. graffmani

GIS + NNI + Kernel Density Estimate

Sightings data were collected opportunistically off Osa Peninsula (2001-2006, n= 1247) and through systematic surveys in Golfo Dulce (2005-2011, n= 102).
Regional (meso) scale S. a. graffmani Local (fine) scale S. a graffmani

GIS + NNI + Kernel Density Estimate

Behavior + Spatiotemporal Patterns

Sightings data were collected opportunistically off Osa Peninsula (2001-2006, n= 1247) and through systematic surveys in Golfo Dulce (2005-2011, n= 102).
Regional (meso) scale S. a. graffmani Local (fine) scale S. a graffmani

GIS + NNI + Kernel Density Estimate

Behavior + Spatiotemporal Patterns

Objectives: Identify areas of critical importance to dolphins (application of behavioral and spatial ecology)
Contribute to an ecosystem based framework that integrates the current needs of non consumptive use of resources

Relative Density
Spatial Pattern of pantropical spotted dolphins Osa Osa Rainy NNI 0.35 0.53 0.41 Z score -44.08 -21.36 -29 p value < 0.01 < 0.01 < 0.01 Pattern Clustered Clustered Clustered

Osa Dry
GD GD Rainy GD Dry

0.72
0.76

-5.43
-3.31

< 0.01
< 0.01

Clustered
Clustered

0.72

-3.31

< 0.01

Clustered

Non-random clustered aggregations throughout the study area Analyses: only records with effort > 3.97 hours

Oviedo et al (in rev) Critical foraging habitat of pantropical spotted dolphins in Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

Relative Density
Rainy Dry

Osa Peninsula: density and group sizes vary with season (Kruskal Wallis= X2: 6.98; p < 0.05) Golfo Dulce: density and group sizes stable across the year (Kruskal Wallis= X2: 0.091; p > 0.05)
Oviedo et al (in rev) Distribution of pantropical spotted dolphins off the Southern Pacific of Costa Rica

Group Follow and Behavior Sampling

Golfo Dulce: homogenous coverage of the inner basin during group follows
Oviedo et al (in rev) Critical foraging habitat of pantropical spotted dolphins in Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

Group Follow and Behavior Sampling


60

Rainy
50 % Occurrence 40 30 20 10

Dry

First Encounter

0 Forage Travel Social Rest Mill

Dolphins spend most of their time searching and capturing prey

Group Follow and Behavior Sampling

Non random cluster of foraging dolphins during group follow per season

Critical Foraging Habitat: Golfo Dulce


Rainy Dry

Important core (critical) areas where the occurrence of foraging bouts is intense: Associated with river drainage systems and with aggregations of most important prey ballyhoo (Hemiramphus sp.)
Oviedo et al (in rev) Critical foraging habitat of pantropical spotted dolphins in Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

Critical Habitats: Conservation and management strategies


We have identified areas and habitats that are structurally critical to the sustainability of a population of a semi-pelagic dolphin within a complex inshore habitat

Critical core areas

need for habitat protection

To preserve current spatiotemporal pattern of animal-habitat relationship

Critical Habitats: Conservation and management strategies


How to conciliate the need for MPAs with non extractive human activities for social benefits? Important but non-critical areas might act as buffer zones where humans activities could continue but also be monitored and managed
Licensing scheme for boats that may enter the areas with high probability of dolphin encounters

In summary
Foraging is the dominant behavioral state within the activity budget
The important occurrence of foraging bouts defines the inner basin of Golfo Dulce as a critical habitat for energy intake The habitat structure and patterns of aggregation provide an empirical model of spatial distribution of dolphins with mechanistic properties: As foraging is behaviorally flexible response, it identifies the realized niche for pantropical spotted dolphins in the Golfo Dulce region

Critical Habitats and Socio-Economic Needs


Strengthening the baseline ecological data as means to inform government decision makers

Socio-economic benefits of MPAs in Golfo Dulce:


Resource protection and management Secure sources of revenue (dolphin watch operations)

Protecting and managing local fish stock for the needs of both dolphins and humans

Muchas Gracias