Spatiotemporal Territorialities of the Amazon River Dolphin (Inia geoffrensis), Fishers, and Tourism Operators

Authors: Cadi Fung*, Michigan State University, Cynthia Simmons, University of Florida, Brad Peter, Michigan State University
Topics: Animal Geographies, Human-Environment Geography, Biogeography
Keywords: wildlife, conservation, habitat, modeling, Amazon, conflict
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Hoover, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Over the past several decades, concern has grown over rising mortality of the Amazon river dolphin (locally known as the “boto”), particularly in light of increased human-dolphin interactions. Among these interactions are tourist attractions that feature up-close feeding encounters with the botos, confrontations with artisanal fishers, as well as an illegal fishing practice that utilizes dolphin flesh as fish bait. Drawing on qualitative surveys and existing knowledge of boto habitat preferences and seasonal movement, this paper presents a remote sensing-based habitat suitability model that identifies (i) ideal boto habitat and (ii) potential spatial overlap between humans and dolphins in a region outside of Manaus, Amazonas in the central Brazilian Amazon. Given the boto’s status as ‘data deficient’, there is immense potential for remote sensing observations to uncover potential boto presence and potential spaces of human-boto conflict; these data are particularly valuable in areas that do not receive regular surveying or are difficult to access. Results suggest that there is substantial spatial overlap between ideal boto habitat and spaces used for fishing and tourism activities; additionally, overall potential for conflict is greatest during the high-water period (May through August) in all habitats. Spaces like those illuminated here should be considered when targeting areas for human/non-human animal conflict research and should be subsequently used to geographically inform the policy-making process.

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