Year of Publication

2014

Paper Type

Master's Thesis

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (MS)

Department

Biology

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Quincy Gibson

Second Advisor

Dr. Eric Johnson

Third Advisor

Dr. Julie Richmond

Department Chair

Dr. Daniel Moon

College Dean

Dr. Barbara Hetrick

Abstract

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is tasked with upholding the regulations prescribed in the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. One of the ways this is accomplished is by producing regular stock assessment reports. For these reports, knowledge about a species abundance and distribution is a vital component, allowing informed management decisions to be made that may potentially reduce the natural and anthropogenic impacts on the organisms. In 2010, an Unusual Mortality Event (UME) occurred in the lower St. Johns River, resulting in an unusually large number of bottlenose dolphin strandings. As the data regarding this population was outdated, the cause of the UME could not be positively determined. Consequently, this lack of information provided the impetus to focus research on the individuals within the lower St. Johns River. Chapter one documents the abundance and emigration rates of the bottlenose dolphin population within the St. Johns River in order to provide NOAA with the necessary information to update the stock assessment report for this population. To designate individuals to various stocks, their distribution must first be known. However, many previous home range studies limited the size of the study area surveyed, which resulted in underestimates of the home range sizes. Therefore, in chapter two I investigated the effects that study area size has on the home range estimates of bottlenose dolphins while demonstrating the usefulness of collaborative science. Together these two chapters report data on the bottlenose dolphin population within the St. Johns River that has not been studied in over 16 years and this research also reveals how study design impacts various analyses and perceived outcomes.

Included in

Biology Commons

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