AB 18:63-68 (2013)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00491

Reference ranges for body condition in wild bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus

Leslie B. Hart1,*, Randall S. Wells2, Lori H. Schwacke1

1National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Hollings Marine Laboratory, 331 Fort Johnson Road, Charleston, South Carolina 29412, USA
2Chicago Zoological Society, c/o: Mote Marine Laboratory, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, Florida 34236, USA

ABSTRACT: Marine mammal body condition, as evaluated by a combination of mass, length, and/or girth measurements, is considered an indicator of nutritional status. We used measurements of total mass, total length, and maximum girth from long-term bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus capture-release research conducted in Sarasota Bay, Florida, USA, (1987 to 2009) to develop 95th percentile reference ranges for 2 body condition models: (1) total mass versus total length and (2) maximum girth versus total length. Nonlinear and linear quantile regression methods were used to estimate the parameters for the reference ranges and develop predictive models to examine body condition among individual dolphins. The flexibility of these models and reliance upon commonly acquired morphometrics allows for broad application among researchers lacking data on mass or age. Ultimately, these reference ranges can be used to evaluate and compare the body condition of individual animals and provide an additional metric for evaluating the general health of coastal populations.


KEY WORDS: Marine mammal · Morphometrics · Health assessment · Nutritional condition · Mass · Girth · Length · Reference range · Quantile regression · Sarasota Bay


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Cite this article as: Hart LB, Wells RS, Schwacke LH (2013) Reference ranges for body condition in wild bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus. Aquat Biol 18:63-68. https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00491

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