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Article

Common Bottlenose Dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, Behavioral Response to a Record-Breaking Flood Event in Pensacola Bay, Florida

1
Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research, P.O. Box 7721, Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948, USA
2
Chicago Zoological Society’s Sarasota Dolphin Research Program, c/o Mote Marine Laboratory, 1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy, Sarasota, FL 34236, USA
3
Department of Biology, University of Central Florida, 4110 Libra Dr, Orlando, FL 32816, USA
4
Center for Environmental Diagnostics and Bioremediation, University of West Florida, 11000 University Pkwy, Pensacola, FL 32514, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Steven Monfort
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(3), 351-369; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2030025
Received: 12 April 2021 / Revised: 25 June 2021 / Accepted: 30 June 2021 / Published: 5 July 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cetaceans: Conservation, Health, and Welfare)
Common bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, can suffer health complications from prolonged freshwater exposure; however, little is known about how dolphins behaviorally respond to flood events. We investigated whether dolphins mitigated their freshwater exposure by moving south towards the estuary mouth and/or towards deeper areas with higher salinities in response to a record-breaking flood in Pensacola Bay, Florida. In total, 144 dolphin groups observed during 45 population dynamic surveys were analyzed across two flood-impacted sampling sessions and their respective seasonal control sessions. Kernel density estimates demonstrated southern movement towards the estuary mouth during flood-impacted sessions, but this distribution change was limited. Species distribution models showed that dolphins did not move to deeper areas after the flood and dolphin distribution was not substantially altered by flood-induced salinity changes. The estuary system exhibits strongly stratified waters with broad salinity ranges even during the flood. Dolphins may have mitigated the severity of freshwater exposure by capitalizing on these stratified areas as they continued to use habitat affected by the flood. A lack of avoidance of low salinity could result in this dolphin population being at greater risk for health problems, which should be considered in future population management and conservation. View Full-Text
Keywords: marine mammal distribution; freshwater exposure; low salinity; high-precipitation events; freshwater intrusion; kernel density estimates; species distribution models marine mammal distribution; freshwater exposure; low salinity; high-precipitation events; freshwater intrusion; kernel density estimates; species distribution models
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MDPI and ACS Style

McBride-Kebert, S.; Toms, C.N. Common Bottlenose Dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, Behavioral Response to a Record-Breaking Flood Event in Pensacola Bay, Florida. J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2, 351-369. https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2030025

AMA Style

McBride-Kebert S, Toms CN. Common Bottlenose Dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, Behavioral Response to a Record-Breaking Flood Event in Pensacola Bay, Florida. Journal of Zoological and Botanical Gardens. 2021; 2(3):351-369. https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2030025

Chicago/Turabian Style

McBride-Kebert, Shauna, and Christina N. Toms 2021. "Common Bottlenose Dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, Behavioral Response to a Record-Breaking Flood Event in Pensacola Bay, Florida" Journal of Zoological and Botanical Gardens 2, no. 3: 351-369. https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2030025

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