Anthropogenic activity, hydrological regime, and light level jointly influence temporal patterns in biosonar activity of the Yangtze finless porpoise at the junction of the Yangtze River and Poyang Lake, China


Peng-Xiang Duan

Additional Authors

Zhi-Tao Wang; Tomonari Akamatsu; Nick Tregenza; Guang-Yu Li; Ke-Xiong Wang; Ding Wang



Volume & Issue

44(5): 919-931



Country / Region


Document Type

Peer-reviewed journal article


Yangtze finless porpoise

Science Keywords

Bioacoustics, Habitat Use

Conservation Measure

Research and monitoring, Species knowledge and understanding

Threat Keywords

Water diversion, Boat traffic


Under increasing anthropogenic pressure, species with a previously contiguous distribution across their ranges have been reduced to small fragmented populations. The critically endangered Yangtze finless porpoise (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis asiaeorientalis), once commonly observed in the Yangtze River-Poyang Lake junction, is now rarely seen in the river-lake corridor. In this study, static passive acoustic monitoring techniques were used to detect the biosonar activities of the Yangtze finless porpoise in this unique corridor. Generalized linear models were used to examine the correlation between these activities and anthropogenic impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and boat navigation, as well as environmental variables, including hydrological conditions and light levels. Over approximately three consecutive years of monitoring (2020–2022), porpoise biosonar was detected during 93% of logged days, indicating the key role of the corridor for finless porpoise conservation. In addition, porpoise clicks were recorded in 3.80% of minutes, while feeding correlated buzzes were detected in 1.23% of minutes, suggesting the potential existence of localized, small-scale migration. Furthermore, both anthropogenic and environmental variables were significantly correlated with the diel, lunar, monthly, seasonal, and annual variations in porpoise biosonar activities. During the pandemic lockdown period, porpoise sonar detection showed a significant increase. Furthermore, a significant negative correlation was identified between the detection of porpoise click trains and buzzes and boat traffic intensity. In addition to water level and flux, daylight and moonlight exhibited significant correlations with porpoise biosonar activities, with markedly higher detections at night and quarter moon periods. Ensuring the spatiotemporal reduction of anthropogenic activities, implementing vessel speed restrictions (e.g., during porpoise migration and feeding), and maintaining local natural hydrological regimes are critical factors for sustaining porpoise population viability.