U.S. Department of Commerce


Date of this Version



Published in Mammal Rev. (2008) 38(1): 19–49


1. Dolphins and porpoises in coastal and/or riverine habitats face serious conservation threats, yet surveys of their abundance are often especially difficult due to the challenges imposed by the habitats. Because many of these species occur in developing countries, lack of resources imposes a further set of challenges.

2. We offer advice on designing and conducting line-transect surveys with a focus on sound, practical, design rather than analytical sophistication, and we attempt, where possible, to offer simple, inexpensive solutions.

3. We guide the reader through the questions of what kind of survey should be done, whether by boat or aircraft, and we discuss ways to avoid bias and increase precision.

4. Our treatment of field methods focuses especially on robust, but low-cost, approaches. We provide two case studies to illustrate the implementation of these ideas.