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Movements and habitat use of river dolphins (Cetartiodactyla: Iniiidae) in the Amazon and Orinoco river basins, determined from satellite tagging

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Federico Mosquera-Guerra, Fernando Trujillo, Marcelo Oliveira-da-Costa, Miriam Marmontel, Dolors Armenteras-Pascual, Saulo Usma, Daphne Willems, Juan David Carvajal-Castro,Hugo Mantilla-Meluk, Nicole Franco, Diego Amorocho, Roberto Maldonado

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International Whaling Commission


Satellite telemetry is a valuable method to identify the movement patterns and habitat use of river dolphins in South America. The collection of satellite tracking data is less
laborious and more accurate than other types of follow-up studies such as VHF technology. A total of 15 dolphins of the genus Inia were tagged in the rivers Tapajós (Brazil), Amazon and Orinoco (Colombia) and San Martín (Bolivia) with transmitters Spot 299A, connected by Argos satellite (Wildlife Computers, Redmond, WA, USA). This study is the first to identify patterns of movement and habitat use of I.g.geoffrensis, I.g. humboldtiana and I.g.boliviensis using this type of technology in the Amazon and Orinoco. The results show that the largest displacements were presented by I.g. boliviensis, where a male individual managed to move 333.7 km between the rivers San Martín and Iténez in Bolivia, followed by one male of I.g.geoffrensis, marked in the Tapajós river, a female I.g.geoffrensis tagged in the Colombian Amazon and finally an I.g. humboldtiana with a displacement of 48.8 km. These results show long differential transboundary movements between the subspecies studied as a result of spatial heterogeneity, water types, system productivity, biomass, and a differential use of habitats. Finally, the importance of the confluences, small tributaries and wetland complex within the protected areas such as the national and departmental natural parks Juruena (Brazil), Iténez (Bolivia), Amacayacú and the Tarapoto Ramsar site (Colombia) is highlighted.

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