acta ethologica

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 9–19 | Cite as

Resource defence and dominance hierarchy in the boto (Inia geoffrensis) during a provisioning program

  • Luiz Cláudio Pinto de Sá Alves
  • Artur Andriolo
  • Mark Bryan Orams
  • Alexandre de Freitas Azevedo
Original Paper


Aggression is often utilised in intraspecific competition to establish and maintain dominance hierarchies in social mammals. Here, we determine if aggressiveness in conditioned botos (Inia geoffrensis) during interactions with humans under provisioning is influenced by the presence or absence of food rewards and if provisioning leads to the establishment of a dominance hierarchy among these generally solitary animals. Mean values of bites among the botos for sessions in which food rewards were delivered were significantly higher than sessions in which no food reward was delivered. No significant difference exists between the mean number of bites per individual during feeding sessions, but the mean number of bites increased significantly with time when animals were not fed. Supplant behaviours were used as a non-harming alternative to bites. The botos’ provisioning is a case of instrumental conditioning, in which the conditioned botos expect to receive food from tourists, increasing competition among the animals when they are not fed. The provisioned botos exhibited an almost linear dominance hierarchy. Bites and supplant behaviours were used more frequently by dominant botos to prevent subordinates from obtaining food provisions. Interactions brought about by provisioning are likely to be harmful to the botos and potentially dangerous to humans.


Amazon River dolphin Artificial feeding Central Amazon Anavilhanas National Park Agonistic behaviour 



The authors would like to acknowledge the Programa de Pós-Graduação em Meio Ambiente from the Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro for the important support provided, Duke University/Oak Foundation for sponsoring this research, Cetacean Society International and Instituto Aqualie. The authors would also like to thank ICMBio staff from the Anavilhanas National Park, Marilda Medeiros and all the Restaurante Boto Cor-de-Rosa’s staff, David Janiger, Robson Carvalho, Fernanda Romagnoli, Mario Angelo Sartori, American Journal Experts and the anonymous reviewers of this journal. L.C.P.S. Alves is supported by Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag and ISPA 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luiz Cláudio Pinto de Sá Alves
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
  • Artur Andriolo
    • 2
    • 3
  • Mark Bryan Orams
    • 4
  • Alexandre de Freitas Azevedo
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Programa de Pós-graduação em Meio AmbienteUniversidade do Estado do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil
  2. 2.Instituto AqualieRio de JaneiroBrazil
  3. 3.Departamento de Zoologia, Instituto de Ciências BiológicasUniversidade Federal de Juiz de Fora, Campus UniversitárioJuiz de ForaBrazil
  4. 4.New Zealand Tourism Research Institute, School of Hospitality and TourismAUT UniversityAucklandNew Zealand
  5. 5.Laboratório de Mamíferos Aquáticos e Bioindicadores, Faculdade de OceanografiaUniversidade do Estado do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil

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