Thomas A. Jefferson

U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, Washington, D.C., United States

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Publications (58)144.85 Total impact

  • Thomas A. Jefferson, Howard C. Rosenbaum
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    ABSTRACT: The taxonomy of the humpback dolphin genus Sousa has been controversial and unsettled for centuries, but recent work indicates that there are several valid species. A review of multiple lines of evidence from skeletal morphology, external morphology, coloration, molecular genetics, and biogeography, in combination provides strong support for the recognition of four species of Sousa. These include S. teuszii (Kükenthal, 1892), a species with uniform gray coloration and a prominent dorsal hump, which is found in the Atlantic Ocean off West Africa. The species S. plumbea (G. Cuvier, 1829) has similar external appearance to S. teuszii, but has a more pointed dorsal fin. It occurs in the Indian Ocean from South Africa to Myanmar (Burma). The original taxon, S. chinensis (Osbeck, 1765), is reserved for the species that has a larger dorsal fin with no prominent hump, and largely white adult coloration. It ranges from eastern India to central China and throughout Southeast Asia. Finally, we describe a new species of Sousa, the Australian humpback dolphin, which occurs in the waters of the Sahul Shelf from northern Australia to southern New Guinea. It has a lower dorsal fin, more extensive dark color on the body, and a dorsal “cape.” It is separated from the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin by a wide distributional gap that coincides with Wallace's Line.
    Marine Mammal Science 07/2014; · 2.13 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: 1. The global range of Risso's dolphin Grampus griseus is not well known, and there has been confusion in the literature as to whether the species has a broad, circumglobal range or only occurs along continental margins. 2. To clarify the species' distribution and habitat preferences, we compiled and reviewed all available (published and unpublished) records of sightings and cap-tures of this species for the past 62 years (1950–2012, n = 8068 records). Stranding records were not included. 3. The results showed that the species has a range that extends across ocean basins and spans between at least 64°N and 46°S, and is apparently absent from high-latitude polar waters. Although Risso's dolphins occur in all habitats from coastal to oceanic, they show a strong range-wide preference for mid-temperate waters of the continental shelf and slope between 30° and 45° latitude. 4. Although a number of misconceptions about the distributional ecology of Risso's dolphin have existed, this analysis showed that it is a widespread species. It strongly favours temperate waters and prefers continental shelf and slope waters to oceanic depths. These habitat preferences appear to hold throughout much or all of the species' range.
    Mammal Review 01/2014; · 3.42 Impact Factor
  • Thomas A. Jefferson
    Marine Mammal Science 01/2014; · 2.13 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Biological and fisheries data were analysed to assess the impact of fisheries mortality on a Critically Endangered subpopulation of <100 humpback dolphins Sousa chinensis in the eastern Taiwan Strait (ETS). Substantial interactions between ETS S. chinensis (hereafter Sousa) and fishing gear are known to cause dolphin mortality. In 2009, a total of 6318 motorised fishing vessels were operating from ports within Sousa habitats. An average of 32 fishing craft per kilo- metre was observed along a 200 km stretch of Sousa habitat. Based on a photo-identification cat- alogue, >30% of the ETS Sousa subpopulation exhibited injuries caused by fishing gear. Three individuals were photographed with fishing gear attached to their bodies, and 1 dolphin was found dead with fresh injuries caused by fishing gear. To ensure recovery of ETS Sousa, mortality due to human causes should be reduced to <1 individual every 7 yr. Fisheries bycatch is the most serious threat to these dolphins and needs to be eliminated as soon as possible to avoid extinction. Preventing the use of trammel nets, other gillnets and trawling throughout their habitat would be the single most effective conservation measure for ETS Sousa in the short term. Other fishing methods are available, and using the most selective, sustainable fishing methods available will benefit not only dolphins but also fish stocks, seabirds and other species, as well as the fishing industry, which depends on these species for its long-term viability. However, in the short term, there are costs associated with switching to more selective fishing gear.
    Endangered Species Research 12/2013; 22:99-114. · 2.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The conservation of humpback dolphins, distributed in coastal waters of the Indo-West Pacific and eastern Atlantic Oceans, has been hindered by a lack of understanding about the number of species in the genus (Sousa) and their population structure. To address this issue, we present a combined analysis of genetic and morphologic data collected from beach-cast, remote-biopsied and museum specimens from throughout the known Sousa range. We extracted genetic sequence data from 235 samples from extant populations and explored the mitochondrial control region and four nuclear introns through phylogenetic, population-level and population aggregation frameworks. In addition, 180 cranial specimens from the same geographical regions allowed comparisons of 24 morphological characters through multivariate analyses. The genetic and morphological data showed significant and concordant patterns of geographical segregation, which are typical for the kind of demographic isolation displayed by species units, across the Sousa genus distribution range. Based on our combined genetic and morphological analyses, there is convincing evidence for at least four species within the genus (S. teuszii in the Atlantic off West Africa, S. plumbea in the central and western Indian Ocean, S. chinensis in the eastern Indian and West Pacific Oceans, and a new as-yet-unnamed species off northern Australia).
    Molecular Ecology 12/2013; 22(23):5936-5948. · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We studied life history characteristics of the Hong Kong/Pearl River Estuary population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis), based on data from 120 specimens stranded between 1995 and 2009, 40 individuals biopsied at sea, and a long-term (14+ yr) photo-identification study. Ages were determined for 112 specimens by thin-sectioning teeth and counting growth layer groups. Estimated length at birth was 101 cm. Longevity was at least 38 yr, and there was little difference in growth patterns of males and females. Growth was described by a Bayesian two-phase Gompertz model; asymptotic length was reached at 249 cm. The tooth pulp cavity filled at an average of 18.5 yr of age. Physical maturity was reached at between 14 and 17 yr of age, apparently a few years after attainment of sexual maturity. Maximum lengths and weights of about 268 cm and 240 kg were attained. Females appear to lose all their spots by 30 yr, although males may retain some spotting throughout life. Calving occurred throughout the year, with a broad peak from March to June. Of 60 females monitored at sea for >14 yr of the study, none were documented to have more than three calves, suggestive of low reproductive output or low calf survival.
    Marine Mammal Science 12/2011; 28(1):84 - 104. · 2.13 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Atlantic humpback dolphins (Sousa teuszii) are endemic to nearshore West African waters between Western Sahara and Angola. They are considered Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature based on restricted geographic range, low abundance and apparent decline in recent decades. We review the human activities most likely to affect the species and consider appropriate conservation actions. Bycatch (incidental capture) in gillnets is the greatest immediate threat. Deaths from entanglement have been documented in Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea and the Republic of the Congo. In Namibe Province, Angola, 4.8 artisanal fishing boats and two gillnets per km were observed in some areas within 1 km of the coast and gillnets are deployed regularly inside bays used by dolphins. Other concerns include the ‘marine bushmeat’ trade, habitat loss/degradation, overfishing, marine pollution, anthropogenic sound and climate change. Conservation challenges include a paucity of scientific data on the species, and widespread human poverty within most range states, resulting in high dependence on artisanal fisheries. Recommended conservation and research priorities include: (1) distribution and abundance surveys in known and potential range states, (2) bycatch monitoring programmes, (3) education/awareness schemes, and (4) protection of core areas via reduction/elimination of nearshore gillnetting.
    African Zoology 05/2011; · 0.75 Impact Factor
  • Mark P. Cotter, Daniela Maldini, Thomas A. Jefferson
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    ABSTRACT: Between 2007 and 2009, we witnessed three aggressive interactions between harbor porpoises and bottlenose dolphins in Monterey Bay, California. This is the first time such aggression has been documented in the Pacific, and the first time a harbor porpoise was collected immediately after witnessing its death, inflicted by bottlenose dolphins. Of the bottlenose dolphins present, 92% were males either confirmed (61%) or putative (31%). Since 2005, 44 harbor porpoise deaths inflicted by bottlenose dolphins were documented in California. Aberrant behavior was rejected as a cause of aggression, based on widespread documentation of similar behaviors in other populations of free-ranging bottlenose dolphins. The evidence for interspecies territoriality as a form of competition for prey was weak: there is little dietary overlap and there are differences in bottlenose dolphin and harbor porpoise distribution patterns in California. Object-oriented play was plausible as a form of practice to maintain intraspecific infanticidal skills or a form of play to maintain fighting skills between male associates. Contributing factors could be high-testosterone levels, as attacks occurred at the height of the breeding season, and/or a skewed operational sex ratio. Ultimately, we need more information about bottlenose dolphin social structure at the time of the aggression.
    Marine Mammal Science 05/2011; 28(1):E1 - E15. · 2.13 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The adoption of endangered species laws in various nations has intensified efforts to better understand, and protect, at-risk species or populations, and their habitats. In many countries, delineating a portion of a species' habitat as particularly worthy of protection has become a mantra of these laws. Unfortunately, the laws themselves often provide scientists and managers with few, if any, guidelines for how to define such habitat. Conservationists and scientists may view protecting part of the habitat of an endangered species as an ineffectual compromise, while managers may be under pressure to allow a range of human activities within the species' habitat. In the case of small cetaceans, establishing boundaries for such areas can also be complicated by their mobility, the fluid nature of their environment, and the often ephemeral nature of their habitat features. The convergence of multiple human impacts in coastal waters around the world is impacting many small cetaceans (and other species) that rely on these areas for feeding, reproducing, and resting. The ten guiding principles presented here provide a means to characterize the habitat needs of small, at-risk cetaceans, and serve as a basis for the delineation of 'priority habitat' boundaries. This conceptual approach should facilitate a constructive discourse between scientists and managers engaged in efforts to recover endangered species. The degree to which the recovery of an at-risk species can be reconciled with sustainable economic activity will depend in part on how well these principles are incorporated into the delineation of priority habitat.
    Marine Policy 01/2011; 35(4):483-488. · 1.87 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: There has been very little research on marine mammals in Cuban waters. Much of the information on marine mammals in this region is buried in historical and gray literature. In order to provide a comprehensive account of marine mammal occurrence in Cuba's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), we reviewed and verified 659 published and unpublished sighting, stranding, capture, and tagging records. Eighteen extant species and four genera have confirmed records for Cuban EEZ waters. This includes 17 species of cetaceans (three baleen whales and 14 toothed whales) and one sirenian species. An additional 11 cetacean species and one extant pinniped species have been reported, but not confirmed, or may have the potential to occur in Cuban waters. Historical records of the Caribbean monk seal (Monachus tropicalis) are documented in Cuba; however, this species is now considered extinct. The only two species that are seen regularly and considered common in Cuban nearshore waters are the common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus).
    Latin American Journal of Aquatic Mammals. 01/2011; 9:65-122.
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    ABSTRACT: 1.Numbering no more than 100 individuals and facing many threats, the geographically isolated Eastern Taiwan Strait population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) is in peril. The estuarine and coastal waters of central-western Taiwan have historically provided prime habitat for these dolphins, but environmental conditions today bear little resemblance to what they were in the past.2.The humpback dolphins must share their habitat with thousands of fishing vessels and numerous factories built upon thousands of hectares of reclaimed land.3.They are exposed to chemicals and sewage released from adjacent terrestrial activities. Noise and disturbance associated with construction, vessel traffic and military activities are features of everyday life for these animals.4.Measures to slow the pace of habitat deterioration and reduce the many risks to the dolphins are urgently needed. As one practical step in this direction, this paper describes the habitat needs of these small cetaceans so that decision makers will be better equipped to define ‘priority habitat’ and implement much needed protection measures under the terms of local legislation.5.The preferred habitat of these dolphins in Taiwan consists of shallow (<30 m), near-shore marine waters with regular freshwater inputs.6.For such a small, isolated and threatened population, ‘priority habitat’ should not be limited to areas of particularly intensive dolphin use or high dolphin density, but rather it should encompass the entire area where the animals have been observed (their current ‘habitat’), as well as additional coastal areas with similar bio-physical features (‘suitable habitat’). Such a precautionary approach is warranted because the loss of only a few individuals could have serious population-level consequences.7.While conventional socio-economic analysis might suggest that implementing protection measures over an area stretching ∼350 km north–south along Taiwan's west coast and ∼3 km out to sea would be too ‘costly’, the loss of this charismatic species from Taiwan's waters would send a troubling message regarding our collective ability to reconcile human activities with environmental sustainability. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Aquatic Conservation Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 09/2010; 20(6):685 - 694. · 1.76 Impact Factor
  • Mammalia 01/2010; 74(2):117-125. · 0.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Atlantic humpback dolphins (Sousa teuszii) are endemic to tropical coastal waters between Western Sahara and Angola, West Africa. They are classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN due to their restricted geographic range, low abundance and declining status. Seventy-one Atlantic humpback dolphin sightings were recorded along 55km of coast in Namibe Province, Angola, during two three-week periods in the summer and winter of 2008. Photo-identification documented 10 individuals, indicating low abundance of the Angola Management Stock. Most sightings (n=46, 65%) occurred in a restricted niche within 300m of shore rendering dolphins highly susceptible to anthropogenic impacts. Nearshore (
    62nd International Whaling Commission, Scientific Committee Annual Meeting, Agadir, Morocco; 01/2010
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    ABSTRACT: Due to indications that misidentification (largely confusion among dolphins of the genera Delphinus and Stenella) in the past had led to erroneous assumptions of distribution of the two species of common dolphins (Delphinus delphis and D. capensis) in the western Atlantic Ocean, we conducted a critical re-examination of records of the genus Delphinus from this region. We compiled 460 ‘plottable’ records, required support for confirmation of genus and species identifications, and found many records lacking (and some clearly misidentified). When we plotted only the valid records (n=364), we found evidence of populations in only three areas, and apparent absence throughout much of the tropical/subtropical regions. Off the east coast of the US and Canada, D. delphis is found from the Georgia/South Carolina border (32°N) north to about 47–50°N off Newfoundland. Since the 1960s, they have apparently been absent from Florida waters. There is no evidence that dolphins of the genus occur in the Gulf of Mexico. Reports of common dolphins from most of the Caribbean Basin are also rejected, and the only place in that region where they are confirmed to occur is off central-eastern Venezuela (a coastal D. capensis population). Off eastern South America, common dolphins appear to be restricted to south of 20°S. There is a coastal long-beaked population found in the South Brazil Bight, and one or more short-beaked populations south and offshore of this (ranging south to at least northern Argentina). The results are very different from commonly-accepted patterns of distribution for the genus in the Atlantic. Most areas of distribution coincide with moderate to strong upwelling and common dolphins appear to avoid warm, tropical waters. This study shows that great care must be taken in identification of similar-appearing long-beaked delphinids, and that uncritical acceptance of records at face value can lead to incorrect assumptions about the ranges of the species involved.
    Marine Biology 04/2009; 156(6):1109-1124. · 2.39 Impact Factor
  • Thomas A. Jefferson, Samuel K. Hung, Bernd Würsig
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    ABSTRACT: Since the early 1990s, there has been an active program in Hong Kong to manage and protect local populations of small cetaceans from the effects of massive development in the area. This paper reviews the progress that has been made. Only two species regularly occur there: the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin and the finless porpoise. Because most development has occurred in the western waters of Hong Kong, where generally only the humpback dolphin occurs, most of the work has been conducted on that species. Development of large infrastructure projects (such as airports, bridges, expressways, power plants, fuel facilities, and container ports) in Hong Kong often results in land reclamation, dredging and dumping of spoils, pipe and cable laying, percussive and bored piling work, underwater blasting, large increases in vessel traffic, and other impacts. Several mitigation measures have been used with varying levels of success, including bubble curtains/jackets, exclusion zones, ramping up of piling hammers, acoustic decoupling of noisy equipment, vessel speed limits, no-dumping policies, and silt curtains. Baseline, construction-phase, and operational-phase cetacean monitoring is often conducted to evaluate the success of conservation measures put into place. The Environmental Impact Assessment process in Hong Kong has involved cetaceans to a degree perhaps higher than anywhere else in the world, and much can be learned from studying the successes and failures of this situation.
    Marine Policy 01/2009; 33(2):305-311. · 1.87 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Knowledge of mammalian diversity is still surprisingly disparate, both regionally and taxonomically. Here, we present a comprehensive assessment of the conservation status and distribution of the world's mammals. Data, compiled by 1700+ experts, cover all 5487 species, including marine mammals. Global macroecological patterns are very different for land and marine species but suggest common mechanisms driving diversity and endemism across systems. Compared with land species, threat levels are higher among marine mammals, driven by different processes (accidental mortality and pollution, rather than habitat loss), and are spatially distinct (peaking in northern oceans, rather than in Southeast Asia). Marine mammals are also disproportionately poorly known. These data are made freely available to support further scientific developments and conservation action.
    Science 11/2008; 322(5899):225-30. · 31.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Knowledge of mammalian diversity is still surprisingly disparate, both regionally and taxonomically. Here, we present a comprehensive assessment of the conservation status and distribution of the world's mammals. Data, compiled by 1700+ experts, cover all 5487 species, including marine mammals. Global macroecological patterns are very different for land and marine species but suggest common mechanisms driving diversity and endemism across systems. Compared with land species, threat levels are higher among marine mammals, driven by different processes (accidental mortality and pollution, rather than habitat loss), and are spatially distinct (peaking in northern oceans, rather than in Southeast Asia). Marine mammals are also disproportionately poorly known. These data are made freely available to support further scientific developments and conservation action.
    Science 10/2008; 322(5899):225-230. · 31.20 Impact Factor
  • Mammalia 01/2008; 72(4):302-308. · 0.81 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

1k Citations
144.85 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2011
    • U.S. Department of Commerce
      Washington, Washington, D.C., United States
  • 1994–2009
    • Texas A&M University
      College Station, Texas, United States
  • 2008
    • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
      • Southwest Fisheries Science Center
      Silver Spring, MD, United States
    • International Union for Conservation of Nature
      Vaud, Switzerland
  • 2006–2007
    • The University of Hong Kong
      • Department of Biochemistry
      Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • 1999–2007
    • Ehime University
      • Center for Marine Environmental Studies (CMES)
      Matsuyama-shi, Ehime, Japan
  • 2004–2006
    • Southwest Fisheries Science Center
      La Jolla, California, United States
    • National Marine Fisheries Service
      Silver Spring, Maryland, United States