Spatiotemporal Variation in Abundance and Social Structure of Bottlenose Dolphins in the Florida Coastal Everglades Thesis

thesis or dissertation chair

fiu authors

  • Sarabia, Robin E

abstract

  • Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) are large-bodied predators that are locally abundant in the coastal Everglades. Because of their potential to exert strong top-down effects on their communities, it is important to understand how spatiotemporal variation in biotic and abiotic factors affects the abundance and behavior of dolphins. This study combined two years of transect surveys with photographic identification methods to assess spatiotemporal variation in the abundance and group sizes of bottlenose dolphins across four large regions of the coastal Everglades including the Shark and Harney Rivers, Whitewater Bay, and coastal oceans of the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Bay. Dolphin abundance was similar across wet and dry seasons, except in river habitats where abundances were higher during the dry season. Group sizes were largest in Florida Bay and open water. Dolphins may be relatively resilient to abiotic changes in the coastal Everglades, with the possible exception of river habitats.

publication date

  • November 9, 2012

keywords

  • Abundance
  • CERP
  • Dolphin
  • Estuary
  • Everglades
  • Grouping behavior
  • Habitat use
  • Social structure

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)