Gill Braulik, Ph.D.

Gill Braulik, PhD

Honorary Research Fellow, University of St. Andrews
Director, Downstream Research & Conservation Ltd.
Pew Marine Fellow
Member IUCN Cetacean Specialist Group


Research Interests

My primary research focus is conservation-focused research on marine and freshwater cetaceans in Asia and Africa. In 2013 I was awarded a Pew marine fellowship that addressed the challenge that the greatest numbers of at–risk marine mammals populate the coastal waters of tropical developing nations.  Basic information such as species presence or absence is lacking along tens of thousands of kilometers of coastline in many of these areas, so important conservation issues are frequently missed. I designed and tested a marine mammal rapid assessment in Tanzania that allowed for broad–scale spatial data on marine mammal populations to be quickly generated at a national or regional level. The information gathered is helping to identify further research needs and address critical conservation efforts in the Tanzania region, a significant but poorly understood area.

I have been involved in research and conservation of marine mammals, primarily in South and Southeast Asia, for about the last fifteen years. A large focus of my previous work has been river dolphins in Asia, especially the Indus River dolphin which is a subspecies endemic to Pakistan. Indus dolphins are classified as endangered by IUCN and they persist in a river system fragmented by dams and barrages and degraded by water diversion for irrigation. My work has been conducted in association with the Pakistani Ministry of Environment, WWF-Pakistan and the Pakistan Wetlands Programme, as well as with numerous Pakistani researchers. The goal of the research was to determine the population status and to understand the effect that dams and barrages have played in the dolphins range decline.  As the primary threat to the population is depleted and degraded habitat I have been examining in detail which aspects of the habitat influence dolphin distribution at both fine and large-scales with the ultimate objective of using this information to propose protected areas. I also have a long-term study to evaluate whether the Indus and Ganges dolphins are separate species using both molecular studies and morphometrics techniques.

In addition to my work in Tanzania and Pakistan I have been involved in work with river dolphins on the Brahmaputra River, India, in the Sundarbans of Bangladesh and was involved with the final efforts to save the Yangtze River dolphin in China. I have a long-term interest in training and facilitating biologists in Iran to establish marine mammal research and conservation programmes in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea.

Publications and Reports

Braulik, G. T., Kasuga, M., Wittich, A., Kiszka, J. J., Macaulay, J., Gillespie, D., Gordon, J., Said, S. S., and Hammond, P. S. (in press) Cetacean rapid assessment: an approach to fill knowledge gaps and target conservation across large data deficient areas, Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems. (Download here)

Braulik, G. T., Wittich, A., Macaulay, J., Kasuga, M., Gordon, J., Davenport, T. B. R., and Gillespie, D. (in press) Acoustic monitoring to document the spatial distribution and hotspots of blast fishing in Tanzania, Marine Pollution Bulletin.

Braulik, G. T., A. Wittich, J. Macaulay, M. Kasuga, J. Gordon, D. Gillespie and T. R. B. Davenport. 2015. Fishing with explosives in Tanzania: spatial distribution and hotspots Zanzibar, Tanzania, Wildlife Conservation Society Tanzania Program: 19 pages (Download here).

Braulik, G. T., K. Findlay, S. Cerchio and R. Baldwin. 2015. Assessment of the Conservation Status of the Indian Ocean Humpback Dolphin (Sousa plumbea) Using the IUCN Red List Criteria. Humpback Dolphins (Sousa spp.): Current Status and Conservation, Part 1. T. Jefferson and B. C. Curry. UK, Academic Press. 72: 119-141.

Braulik, G.T., Noureen, U., Arshad, M., Reeves, R.R., 2015. Review of status, threats, and conservation management options for the endangered Indus River blind dolphin. Biological Conservation 192, 30-41.

Braulik, G.T.,Arshad, M., Noureen, U., Northridge, S., 2014. Habitat fragmentation and species extirpation in freshwater ecosystems: causes of range decline of the Indus River dolphin (Platanista gangetica minor). PLoS ONE.

Mohsenian, N., Moshiri, H., Sedighi, O.S.K., Norbakhsh, S., Heidary, S., Shamili, K.S., Braulik, G.T., 2014. The first long-beaked common dolphin mass stranding in Iranian waters. Marine Biodiversity Records 7, e64; 2014.

Braulik G.T., Barnett R, Odon V, Islas-Villanueva V, Hoelzel AR, Graves JA. 2014. One Species or Two? Vicariance, Lineage Divergence and Low mtDNA Diversity in Geographically Isolated Populations of South Asian River Dolphin. Journal of Mammalian Evolution: 1-10.

Braulik G.T. 2014. Platanistidae, In Wilson D, Mittermeier RA, eds. Handbook of Mammals of the World. Volume 4: Sea Mammals. Spain: Lynx Edicions.

Lockyer, C., Braulik, G.T., 2014. An evaluation of age estimation using teeth from South Asian River dolphins (Platanistidae). NAMMCO Scientific Publications.

Braulik, G.T., Reichert, A.P., Ehsan, T., Khan, S., Northridge, S.P., Alexander, J.S. and Garstang, R. 2012. Habitat use by a freshwater dolphin in the low-water season. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems. DOI: 10.1002/aqc.2246.

Braulik, G. T., Bhatti, Z. I., Ehsan, T., Hussain, B., Khan, A. R., Khan, A., Khan, U., Kundi, K., Rajput, R., Reichert, A. P., Northridge, S. P., Bhaagat, H. B. and Garstang, R. 2012.  Robust estimate of abundance for South Asian river dolphin subspecies. Endangered Species Research 17: 201-215

Braulik, G. T. 2012. Conservation ecology and phylogenetics of the Indus River dolphin (Platanista gangetica minor). PhD thesis. Department of Biology, University of St. Andrews.

Braulik, G.T., Ranjbar, S. Owfi, F., Aminrad, T., Dakhteh, S.M.H., Kamrani, E., Mohsenizadeh, F. 2010. Marine Mammal Records from Iranian Waters of the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management. 11 (1):49-63.

Braulik, G. T., Sedighi, O., Fadakhar, S., Mohammadi, H., Brownell Jr, R.L., Reeves, R.R., and Fernandez, A. 2010. A retrospective investigation into two dolphin mass mortality events in Iran, autumn 2007. Zoology in the Middle East. 49:13-26.

Smith, B. D., Braulik, G, Strindberg, S., Mansur, R., Diyan, M. A. A. and Ahmed, B. 2009. Habitat selection of freshwater-dependent cetaceans and the potential effects of declining freshwater flows and sea-level rise in waterways of the Sundarbans mangrove forest, Bangladesh. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems. 19:209-225.

Smith, B.D. and Braulik, G. T. 2008. Susu and Bhulan Platanista gangetica gangetica and P.g.minor. In: W.F. Perrin, B. Wursig and J.G.M. Thewissen (Editors), Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals. 2nd Edition. Academic Press, San Diego, pp. 1208-1213.

Braulik, G. T. 2006. Comprehensive status assessment of the Indus River dolphin (Platanista gangetica minor). Biological Conservation 129(4): 579-590.

Wang, Ding., Zhang, Xianfeng., Wang, Kexiong., Wei, Zhou., Wursig, Bernd., Braulik, Gillian. T., Ellis, Susie. 2006. Conservation of the baiji: no simple solutions. Conservation Biology, 20(3): 623-625.

Turvey, S.T., Barrett, L.A., Braulik, G. T. and Wang, D., 2006. Implementing the recovery programme for the Yangtze River dolphin. Oryx, 40(3): 255-260.

Smith, B.D., Braulik, G., Strinberg, S., Ahmad, B. and Mansur, R. 2006. Abundance estimation of Ganges River dolphins (Platanista gangetica gangetica) and Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris) using independent concurrent counts in waterways of the Sundarbans mangrove forest, Bangladesh. Marine Mammal Science 22(2):1-21.

Braulik, G. T., Reeves, R.R., Ellis, S., Wang, D., Wells, R.S. and Dudgeon, D. 2005. Report of the Workshop on Conservation of the baiji and Yangtze Finless porpoise in China. 28 Nov-2 Dec 2004, Wuhan, China. Available for download at: www.iucn-csg.org

Braulik, G. T., B. D. Smith, and A. A. Chaudhry. 2004. Platanista gangetica ssp. minor. IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.2.

Smith, B. D., G. Braulik, and R. K. Sinha. 2004. Platanista gangetica ssp. gangetica. IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.2.

Smith, B. D., and G. T. Braulik. 2008. Platanista gangetica. IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.2.

Smith, B.D., Braulik, G. T., Jefferson, T.A., Bui Dinh Chung, Chu Tien Vinh, Doan Van Du, Bach Van Hanh, Pham Dinh Trong and Dao Tan Ho. 2003. Notes on two cetacean surveys in the Gulf of Tonkin. Raffles Museum Bulletin of Zoology 51 (1): 155-171.

Smith, B.D., Ahmed, B., Edrise, M. and Braulik, G. 2001. Status of the River Dolphin, Shushuk, Platanista gangetica, in Kaptai Lake and the Southeastern Rivers of Bangladesh. Oryx. 35 (1):

Jefferson, T. A. and Braulik, G.T. 1999. Preliminary reports on the finless porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides) in Hong Kong waters. IBI Reports: 9: 1-7.