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Population parameters of Guiana dolphins (Sotalia guianensis) in a southern Brazilian estuary

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Populations of many coastal cetaceans are threatened by negative anthropogenic impacts. Key precursors to effective recovery plans include understanding life histories and population parameters to establish baselines for subsequent changes. Here, we provide this information for one of the largest populations of Guiana dolphins (Sotalia guianensis), in the Paranaguá estuarine complex (PEC), southern Brazil. Between 2014–2015 and 2017–2018, photo-identification data were collected from vessels at two locations bordering a (i) marine conservation zone and (ii) port area in the PEC to estimate population parameters via mark-recapture modeling. Group sizes varied between 1 and 41 animals at both locations, and a Jolly–Seber mark-recapture model estimated total abundances to be 454 (95% CI = 287–718) and 902 individuals (95% CI = 652–1247), respectively. Calves were identified in 62% and 71% of groups. There was also location-specific variability among the probabilities of capture (0.43; 95% CI = 0.21–0.67 vs 0.94; 95% CI = 0.91–0.96) survival (0.77; 95% CI = 0.31–0.95 vs 0.26; 95% CI = 0.23–0.30) and individuals entering populations (0.00–0.23 vs 0.00–0.26). These differences were attributed to various geographic and anthropogenic factors in the PEC. By providing regional baseline abundance of Guiana dolphin population dynamics and their spatio-temporal use, this study supports future local assessments of population trends, and facilitates broader between-population comparisons for better assessing population risks and the conservation status of the species. Collectively, the results reinforce the need for (i) existing regional protected areas, and (ii) ongoing systematic surveys to inform managing anthropogenic activities along the southern Brazilian coast, and other areas with multiple and cumulative impacts on coastal dolphins.

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Data supporting this study will be available if are requested to the authors. Requests to access the data should be directed to


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We would like to thank the staff at the Universidade Federal do Paraná and the Pós-graduação em Sistemas Costeiros e Oceânicos (PGSISCO; UFPR) for providing the infrastructure to carry out this study; and the research team from the Laboratório de Ecologia e Conservação (LEC-CEM/UFPR) for their help with the data sampling. We are grateful to Drs Fábio Daura-Jorge (UFSC) and Mauro Pichorim (UFRN) for helping with the data analyses and interpretation.


This study was financed in part by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior—Brasil (CAPES)—Finance Code 001, S.P.G. de Moura received a CAPES-Brazil M.Sc. scholarship and C.D received a postdoctoral fellowship from Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF/2018).

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SPGdM: investigation, data collection, visualizations, data analysis, conceptualization, writing—original draft preparation, review and editing. BS: data analysis, conceptualization, writing—original draft preparation. MKB: visualization, validation, writing—review and editing. MC: visualization, validation, writing—review and editing. CD: data collection, conceptualization, funding acquisition, project administration, resources, supervision, validation, visualizations, writing—review and editing.

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Correspondence to Stephane P. G. de Moura or Camila Domit.

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de Moura, S.P.G., Schulze, B., Broadhurst, M.K. et al. Population parameters of Guiana dolphins (Sotalia guianensis) in a southern Brazilian estuary. Mamm Biol 103, 349–361 (2023).

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