Amazon River Dolphin Ecology and Conservation

The Amazon River dolphin (Inia geoffrensis), or boto, is listed as an endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.   In the last few decades, due to human population expansion, growing markets, and technological advancements, interactions between botos and humans have increased substantially. Since the mid-1990’s, botos are being harvested to be used as bait to fish the catfish Calophysus macropterus.  To meet growing demands for this food fish in Colombia and Brazil, the harvest has spread throughout the Amazon.

My research has focused on quantifying the population-level effects of this hunt and identifying science-based conservation measures.  Using mark-recapture models, I also seek to answer more general questions about boto population and spatial ecology.


Publications on Amazon River dolphins

Mintzer, VJ; da Silva, VMF; Martin, AR; Frazer, TK; Lorenzen, K. 2020. Protected area evaluation for endangered Amazon river dolphins (Inia geoffrensis). Biological Conservation. 252.

Mintzer, VJ; Martin, AR; Lorenzen, K; Frazer, TK; da Silva, VMF. 2016.  Seasonal movement of Amazon River dolphins (Inia geoffrensis) in a protected floodplain. Marine Mammal Science 32(2): 664-681. DOI: 10.1111/mms.12298

Mintzer, VJ; Schmink, M; Lorenzen, K; Frazer, TK; Martin, AR; da Silva, VMF.  2014. Attitudes and behaviors toward Amazon River dolphins (Inia geoffrensis) in a sustainable use protected area. Biodiversity and Conservation 24(2): 247-269. DOI: 10.1007/s10531-014-0805-4

Mintzer, V. J. 2013. An evaluation of the conservation of Amazon River dolphins (Inia geoffrensis) in a Brazilian protected area. University of Florida.

Mintzer, V.J. 2013. Catfish fisheries pose threat to Amazon River dolphins. LakeLine 33:17-19.  Available at

Mintzer, VJ; Martin, AR; da Silva, VMF; Barbour, AB; Lorenzen, K; Frazer, TK. 2013.  Effect of illegal harvest on apparent survival of Amazon River dolphins (Inia geoffrensis). Biological Conservation 158: 280-286. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2012.10.006


Vanessa J. Mintzer, Ph.D.

Wildlife Research Partnerships

PO Box 5174

Asheville, NC 28803

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©2019 by Vanessa Mintzer