Passive acoustic monitoring of river dolphin (Inia geoffrensis and Sotalia fluviatilis) presence:

A comparison between waters near the city of Iquitos and within the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve


  • Charles A Muirhead Duke University - Division of Marine Science and Conservation



Acoustics, Habitat Use, Abundance Estimation


All river dolphin species are in decline as a direct result of intensified anthropogenic activity along river systems. In South America, the size and geographical complexity of their range pose a challenge to status assessment. Passive acoustic monitoring offers a cost-effective, scalable, and readily standardized method for determining species distribution and can augment the spatiotemporal coverage of visual survey efforts currently underway. A passive acoustic survey of dolphin presence was conducted in two areas of the Amazon River subject to different degrees of human use; the inland port city Iquitos and the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, in Peru. Surveys were based on acoustic detection of biosonar activity. Recorders were distributed at 17 sites along 61 linear km of river habitat for durations of 46 to 148 h. Dolphin presence was 45% lower near the city than in the reserve. This study demonstrates the efficacy of acoustic monitoring as a method for testing dolphin redistribution and/or decline hypotheses in the context of anthropogenic development. The methods are applicable to continuous future monitoring and status assessment of river dolphins in South America as well as in Asia.

Author Biography

Charles A Muirhead, Duke University - Division of Marine Science and Conservation

Duke University; Nicholas School of the Environment
Division of Marine Science and Conservation
Nowacek Lab
Doctoral Student


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