Center for Aquatic Biodiversity and Resource Conservation

Research Group of Conservation Biology of Aquatic Animals


PI:  Prof. WANG Kexiong, PhD

Team members:  

Professor and Dr., WANG Ding;  

Associated Professors and Drs, Yujiang HAO, Jinsong ZHENG, Zhigang MEI; 

Assistant Professor and Dr., Zhitao WANG;  

Engineers, Weiming GONG, Zhangbing KOU;  

Senior technician, Bingfang YU;  

Research Assistants, Mao CHEN, Pengxiang DUAN;  

Academic Secretary, Fei FAN;  

Porpoise trainers, Chaoqun WANG, Hongbin GUO, Zhengyu DENG; 

Postdoctor, Yi Han;  

9 Ph.D students and 10 Sc.M. students. 


Tel: 86-27-87801331/87800371 

Fax: 86-27-87491267   

General Introduction  

Evolved from the Baiji Research Group established in the autumn of 1978, the Research Group of Conservation Biology of Aquatic Animals has been devoted to the research on conservation biology of rare aquatic animals - the Yangtze River freshwater and marine cetaceans, with special emphasis on the biology of endangered animals, the internal and external mechanisms underlying endangered species, the theories and techniques of population dynamic monitoring, the theories of small population biology and species recovery, and the theories and techniques of endangered animal breeding.  

Centering on the key issues of species conservation, this group carries out researches on population ecology, reproductive biology and medicine, bioacoustics and behavior, and conservation genetics, especially on the theoretical and practical issues of in-situ, ex-situ, and breeding conservation of endangered species.  

Covering an area of 1.2 hectares, this group consists of a 20,000 square-meter dolphin aquarium, where seven Yangtze finless porpoises are living, and a 3,000 square-meter laboratory building with laboratories of ecology, bioacoustics and behavior, physiology and medicine, molecular biology and chemistry.  

This group is now undertaking more than 30 research projects, some of which are funded by the National Science Foundation of China, Ministry of Science and Technology, and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, while others are by relevant international organizations and local governments and units.  

As for the facilities, this group is well equipped with physiological, medical and molecular biology instruments, sound signal recording and analysis system, behavioral data recording and storage system, field ecological survey, animal tracking and data collection system. 

On-going Researches:  

* The endangered mechanisms and conservation measures of porpoises and Chinese white dolphins 

* Ex-situ conservation of porpoises 

* Population monitoring and habitat protection of porpoises and Chinese white dolphins 

* Theory and technique of porpoise breeding conservation 

* Bioacoustics and behavioral ecology of porpoises and Chinese white dolphins 

* Conservation genetics, molecular ecology, adaptive evolution and intestinal microbiology of porpoises 

* Acoustic behavior of rare aquatic animals such as alligators, giant salamanders and seals 

* Impact assessments of water-related projects and underwater noise on rare aquatic mammals, and the conservation measures 


A variety of molecular biology equipment, micrograph and recording system, sound recording and analysis system, behavior recording and data storage system, blood biochemical auto-analyzing system, field investigation and data sampling system etc.    

Selective publications for the past five years (*Corresponding author; #Equal contribution) 

1.         Zeng XY, Huang SL, Hao YJ*, Wang D, Ji JH, Deng XJ, Nabi G. (2018). Ultrasonography of mammary glands in finless porpoises (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis) at different reproductive stages. Marine Mammal Science, 34(2): 529-540. 

2.         Nabi G, McLaughlin RW, Hao YJ*, Wang KX, Zeng XY, Khan S, Wang D*. (2018). The possible effects of anthropogenic acoustic pollution on marine mammals’ reproduction: an emerging threat to animal extinction. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 25: 19338-19345. 

3.         Pine MK*, Wang D, Porter L, Wang KX. (2018). Investigating the spatiotemporal variation of fish choruses to help identify important foraging habitat for Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, Sousa chinensis. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 75(2): 510-518. 

4.         Zeng X, Chen M, Liu Z, Yu D, Huang SL, Yang J, Fan F, Wang D, Hao Y*, Nabi G. (2018). Characterization of milk protein composition of the Yangtze finless porpoises. Marine Mammal Science, DOI: 10.1111/mms.12508, online. 

5.         Cheng ZL, Pine MK, Huang SL, Wang D, Wu HP, Wang KX*. (2018). A case of epimeletic behavior and associated acoustic records of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins. Journal of Mammalogy, DOI:10.1093/jmammal/gyy095, online. 

6.         Wan XL, McLaughlin RW, Zheng JS*, Hao YJ, Fan F, Tian RM, Wang D. (2018). Microbial communities in different regions of the gastrointestinal tract in East Asian finless porpoises (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis sunameri). Scientific Reports, in press. 

7.         Pine MK*, Wang K*, Wang D*. (2017). Fine-scale habitat use in Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, Sousa chinensis, may be more influenced by fish rather than vessels in the Pearl River Estuary, China. Marine Mammal Science, 33(1): 291-312. 

8.       Zeng XY, Huang SL, Qian ZY, Hao YJ*, Wang D*, Ji JH, Nabi G. (2017). Characterization of milk composition in narrow-ridged finless porpoises (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis) at different lactation stages. Marine Mammal Science, 33(3): 803-816. 

9.       Fang L, Wu YP, Wang KX, Pine MK, Wang D*, Li SH. (2017). The echolocation transmission beam of free-ranging Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis). J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 142 (2): 771-779. 

10.   Huang SL#, Mei ZG#, Hao YJ, Zheng JS, Wang K, Wang D*. (2017). Saving the Yangtze finless porpoise: Time is rapidly running out. Biological Conservation, 210: 40-46. 

11.   Bi JL, Hu B, Wang J, Liu X, Zheng JS, Wang D*, Xiao WH*. (2017). Beluga whale pVHL enhances HIF-2α activity via inducing HIF-2α proteasomal degradation under hypoxia. Oncotarget, 8(26): 42272-42287. 

12.   Wan XL, Zheng JS*, Li WX, Zeng XY, Yang JW, Hao YJ, Wang D. (2017). Parasitic infections in the East Asian finless porpoise Neophocaena asiaeorientalis sunameri living off Chinese Yellow/Bohai Sea coast. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 125(1): 63-71. 

13.   Chen MM#, Fontaine MC#*, Chehida YB#Zheng JS*, Labbé F, Mei ZG, Hao YJ, Wang KX, Wu M, Zhao QZ, Wang D*. (2017). Genetic footprint of population fragmentation and contemporary collapse in a freshwater cetacean. Scientific Reports, 7: 14449. 

14.   Nabi G, Hao YJ*, Zeng XY, Zheng JS, Mclaughlin R, Wang D*. (2017). Hematologic and biochemical differences between two free ranging Yangtze finless porpoise population: the implications of habitat impact. PLOS ONE, 12(11): e0188570. 

15.   Nabi G, Hao YJ*, Zeng XY, Wang D. (2017). Assessment of Yangtze finless porpoises (Neophocaena asiaorientalis) through hematologic and biochemical parameters. Zoological Studies, 56: 31. 

16.   Mei ZG, Chen M, Li YT, Huang SL, Huang J, Han Y, Zhu BT, Li CS, Wang KX, Wang D*. (2017). Habitat preference of the Yangtze finless porpoise in a minimally disturbed environment. Ecological Modelling, 353: 47-53. 

17.   Cheng ZL, Wang D, Wu HP, Huang SL, Pine MK, Peng CW, Wang KX*. (2017). Stereotyped whistles may be first evidence to suggest the possibility of signature whistles in an injured Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis). Aquatic Mammals, 43(2), 185-192. 

18.   Platto S*, Zhang C, Pine MK, Feng WK, Yang LG, Irwin A, Wang D. (2017). Behavioral laterality in Yangtze finless porpoises (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis asiaeorientalis). Behavioural Processes, 140: 104-114. 

19.   Stewart K*, Ma HJ, Zheng JS, Zhao JF. (2017). Using environmental DNA to assess population-wide spatiotemporal reserve use. Conservation Biology, 31(5): 1173-1182. 

20.   Wang ZT, Nowacek D, Akamatsu T, Wang KX*, Liu JC, Duan GQ, Cao HJ, Wang D*. (2017). Diversity of fish sound types in the Pearl River Estuary, China. PeerJ, 5: e3924. 

22.   Pine MK*, Wang K*, Wang D*. (2016). Monitoring rising ambient sound levels from vessels and impacts on Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis) occurrences. Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics, 27, 070003. 

23.   Wang ZT, Au WWL, Rendell L, Wang KX*, Wu HP, Wu YP, Liu JC, Duan GQ, Cao HJ, Wang D*. (2016). Apparent source levels and active communication space of whistles of free-ranging Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) in the Pearl River Estuary and Beibu Gulf, China. PeerJ, 4: e1695. 

24.   Pine MK*, Jeffs AG, Wang D, Radford CA. (2016). The potential for vessel noise to mask biologically important sounds within ecologically significant embayments. Ocean & Coastal Management, 127: 63-73. 

25.   Ruan R, Wan XL, Zheng Y, Zheng JS*, Wang D*. (2016). Assembly and characterization of the MHC class I region of the Yangtze finless porpoise (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis asiaeorientalis). Immunogenetics, 68: 77-82. 

26.   Ruan R, Ruan J, Wan XL, Zheng Y, Chen MM, Zheng JS*, Wang D*. (2016). Organization and characteristics of the major histocompatibility complex classⅡ region in the Yangtze finless porpoise (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis asiaeorientalis). Scientific Reports, 6: 22471. 

27.   Chen MM, Zheng Y, Hao YJ, Mei ZG, Wang KX, Zhao QZ, Zheng JS*, Wang D*. (2016). Parentage-based group composition and dispersal pattern studies of the Yangtze finless porpoise population in Poyang Lake. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 17: 1268. 

28.   Wan XL, Ruan R, McLaughlin RW, Hao YJ, Zheng JS*, Wang D*. (2016). Fecal bacterial composition of the endangered Yangtze finless porpoises living under captive and semi-natural conditions. Current Microbiology, 72: 306-314. 

29.   Wan XL, McLaughlin RW, Zhou JY, Hao YJ, Zheng JS*, Wang D*. (2016). Isolation of culturable aerobic bacteria and evidence of Kerstersia gyiorum from the blowhole of captive Yangtze finless porpoises. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek Journal of Microbiology, 109(8): 1167-1175. 

30.   Yu XY, Hao YJ*, Kot B, Wang Ding. (2016). Effect of photoperiod extension on the testicular sonographic appearance and sexual behavior of captive Yangtze finless porpoise (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis asiaeorientalis). Zoological Studies, 55: 24. 

31.   Platto S*, Wang D, Wang KX. (2016). Variation in the emission rate of sounds in a captive group of false killer whales Pseudorca crassidens during feedings: possible food anticipatory vocal activity? Chinese Journal of Oceanology and Limnology, 34(6):1218-1237. 

32.   Ma HJ, Stewart K*, Lougheed S, Zheng JS, Wang YX, Zhao JF. (2016). Characterization, optimization, and validation of environmental DNA (eDNA) markers to detect an endangered aquatic mammal. Conservation Genetics Resources, 8(4): 561-568. 

35.     Fang L, Li SH, Wang KX, Wang ZT, Shi WJ, Wang D*. (2015). Echolocation signals of free-ranging Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) in Sanniang Bay, China. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 138 (3): 1346-1352. 

36.     Fang L, Wang D, Li YT, Cheng ZL, Pine MK., Wang KX*, Li SH*. (2015). The source parameters of echolocation clicks from captive and free-ranging Yangtze finless porpoises (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis asiaeorientalis). PLoS ONE, 10(6): e0129143. 

37.     Dong L, Wang D*, Wang K, Li S, Mei Z, Wang S, Akamatsu T, Kimura S. (2015). Yangtze finless porpoises along the main channel of Poyang Lake, China: implications for conservation. Marine Mammal Science, 31(2):612-628. 

38.     Wang ZT, Akamatsu T, Mei ZG, Dong LJ, Imaizumi T, Wang KX, Wang D*. (2015).  Frequent and prolonged nocturnal occupation of port areas by Yangtze finless porpoises (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis): forced choice for feeding? Integrative Zoology, 10, 122-132. 

39.     Wang ZT, Nachtigall PE., Akamatsu T, Wang KX*, Wu YP, Liu JC, Duan GQ, Cao HJ, Wang D*. (2015). Passive acoustic monitoring the diel, lunar, seasonal and tidal patterns in the biosonar activity of the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) in the Pearl River estuary, China. PLoS One, 10(11): e0141807. 

40.     Wei C, Wang ZT, Song ZC, Wang KX, Wang D*, Au W, Zhang Y*. (2015). Acoustic property reconstruction of a neonate Yangtze finless porpoise’s (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis) head assed on CT imaging. Plos One, 10(4): e0121442. 

41.     Ruan R, Guo AH, Hao YJ, Zheng JS*, Wang D*. (2015). De Novo assembly and characterization of narrow-ridged finless porpoise renal transcriptome and identification of candidate genes involved in osmoregulation. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 16: 2220-2238. 

42.     Wang JZ, Yu XY, Hu B, Zheng JS, Xiao WH, Hao YJ, Liu WH*, Wang D*. (2015). Physicochemical evolution and molecular adaptation of the cetacean osmoregulation-related gene UT-A2 and implications for functional studies. Scientific Reports, 5(8795): 1-17. 

43.     Bi JL, Hu B, Zheng JS, Wang JZ, Xiao WH*, Wang D*. (2015). Characterization of the hypoxia-inducible factor 1 alpha gene in the sperm whale, beluga whale, and Yangtze finless porpoise. Marine Biology, 162: 1201-1213. 

44.     Zeng XY, Jin JH, Hao YJ*, Wang D*. (2015). Topographical distribution of blubber in finless porpoises (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis sunameri): a result from adapting to living in coastal waters. Zoological Studies, 54: 32. 

50.     Kimura S, Akamatsu T, Dong LJ, Wang KX*, Wang D, Shibata Y, Arai N. (2014). Acoustic capture-recapture method for towed acoustic surveys of echolocating porpoise. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 135(6): 3364-3370. 

51.     Mooney TA*, Li SH, Ketten DR, Wang KX, Wang D. (2014). Hearing pathways in the Yangtze finless porpoise, Neophocaena asiaeorientalis asiaeorientalis. Journal of Experimental Biology, 217: 444-452. 

52.     Wang ZT, Akamatsu T, Wang KX*, Wang D*. (2014). The diel rhythms of biosonar behavior in the Yangtze finless porpoise (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis asiaeorientalis) in the port of the Yangtze River: the correlation between prey availability and boat traffic. PLOS ONE, 9(5): e97907. 

53.     Wang ZT, Wu YP, Duan GQ, Cao HJ, Liu JC, Wang KX*, Wang D*. (2014). Assessing the underwater acoustics of the world’s largest vibration hammer (OCTA-KONG) and its potential effects on the Indo-Pacific Humpbacked Dolphin (Sousa chinensis). PLOS ONE, 9(10): e110590. 

54.     Mei ZG#, Zhang XQ#, Huang SL, Zhao XJ, Hao YJ, Zhang L, Qian ZY, Zheng JS, Wang K*, Wang D*. (2014). The Yangtze finless porpoise: on an accelerating path to extinction. Biological Conservation, 172: 117-123. 

55.     Chen MM, Zheng JS*, Wu M, Ruan R, Zhao QZ, Wang D*. (2014). Genetic diversity and population structure of the critically endangered Yangtze finless porpoise (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis asiaeorientalis) as revealed by mitochondrial and microsatellite DNA. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 15: 11307-11323. 

56.     Feng P#, Zheng JS#, Rossiter S, Wang D, Zhao HB*. (2014). Massive losses of taste receptor genes in toothed and baleen whales. Genome Biology and Evolution, 6: 1254-1265. 

57.     Guo AH, Hao YJ*, Wang JZ, Zhao QZ, Wang D*. (2014). Concentrations of osmotically related constituents in plasma and urine of finless porpoise (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis): implications for osmoregulatory strategies for marine mammals living in freshwater. Zoological Studies, 53: 10. 

62.     Kimura S*, Akamatsu T, Wang D, Li S, Wang K, Yoda K. (2013). Variation in the production rate of biosonar signals in freshwater porpoises. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 133(5): 3128-3134. (SCI) 

63.     Li SH*, Wang D, Wang KX, Hoffmann-Kuhnt M, Fernando N, Taylor E, Lin WZ, Chen JL, Ng T. (2013). Possible age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) and corresponding change in echolocation parameters in a stranded Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin. Journal of Experimental Biology, 216: 4144-4153. 

64.     Wang ZT, Fang L, Shi WJ, Wang KX*, Wang D. (2013). Whistle characteristics of free-ranging Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) in Sanniang Bay, China. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 133: 2479-2489. 

65.     Turvey ST*, Risley CL, Moore JE, Barrett LA, Hao YJ, Zhao XJ, Zhou KY, Wang D*. (2013). Can local ecological knowledge be used to assess status and extinction drivers in a threatened freshwater cetacean? Biological Conservation, 157: 352-360. 

66.     Zhao X, Wang D*, Turvey ST, Taylor B, Akamatsu T. (2013). Distribution patterns of Yangtze finless porpoises in the Yangtze River: implications for reserve management. Animal Conservation, 16: 509-518. 

67.     Zhang XQ, Xian YJ, Wang M, Wang D*. (2013). Behaviour and habitat selection of Yangtze finless porpoises in Dongting Lake, China, and the adjacent waters: impact of human activity. Pakistan J. Zool., 45(3): 635-642. 

68.     McLaughlin RW, Zheng JS*, Ruan R, Wang CQ, Zhao QZ, Wang D. (2013). Isolation of Robinsoniella peoriensis from the fecal material of the endangered Yangtze finless porpoise, Neophocaena asiaeorientalis asiaeorientalis. Anaerobe, 20: 79-81.