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AB 29:123-136 (2020)  -  DOI:

Female reproductive output in a Mediterranean bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus population

Monica Francesca Blasi1,*,#, Chiara Bruno1,#, Luigi Boitani2

1Filicudi WildLife Conservation, Stimpagnato Filicudi, 98055 Lipari (ME), Italy
2Department of Biology and Biotechnologies, University ‘La Sapienza’, Viale dell’Università 32, 00185 Rome, Italy
*Corresponding author:
#These authors contributed equally to this work

ABSTRACT: The reproductive output of wild bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus has extensively been investigated; nevertheless, it remains widely unexplored in the Mediterranean Sea. We investigated the reproductive history of female bottlenose dolphins in the Aeolian Archipelago (Italy). Thirteen years of photo-identification data were used to track the reproductive pattern of 7 females and their 16 calves. The birth period was accurately estimated within 1 mo for 6 calves (37.5%), peaking in June/July. The mean number of calves for females was 2.3 ± 1.1 (SD), ranging from 1 to 4. The mean interbirth interval was 3.5 ± 1.6 yr, ranging from 2 to 7 yr. The mean weaning age was 3.2 ± 0.6 yr, although 1 calf may have been weaned as late as its fifth birthday. Mother-calf postweaning associations were tracked for 9 calves and ranged from 4 to 10 yr of residence in the maternal group of the calf. The age of first pregnancy was 7.5 yr. The number of calves was influenced by the mean maternal group size, with females that were sighted in larger groups having more calves. However, the number of calves was not influenced by the strength of the associations of mothers with other females. Calf mortality by age 1 was high (12.5%). Two juveniles also died postweaning within 6 yr of their birth. Finally, 2 females may have died during the study, as they were not re-sighted at the end of the study. Our results highlight the need to implement urgent conservation actions to protect this bottlenose dolphin population.

KEY WORDS: Birth period · Interbirth interval · Weaning age · Permanence time · Calf mortality · Aeolian Archipelago · Bottlenose dolphin

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Cite this article as: Blasi MF, Bruno C, Boitani L (2020) Female reproductive output in a Mediterranean bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus population. Aquat Biol 29:123-136.

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