Acta Theriologica Sinica (2006)


There are three Neophocaena phocaenoides subspecies recognized in Chinese waters: South China Sea population, N. p. phocaenoides; Yellow Sea population, N. p. sunameri; and Yangtze population, N. p. asiaeorientalis. The Yangtze population, or Yangtze finless porpoise, is the most endangered subspecies that only inhabits in the Yangtze River and its adjacent lake systems. It is a unique freshwater and relatively isolated population of the Neophocaena. The wild population of the Yangtze finless porpoise has decreased drastically in last two decades because it also inescapably suffers the impacts of the deterioration of the Yangtze environment as the Baiji (Lipotes vexillifer) does, such as construction of hydropower facilities, overmuch and illegal fishing, busy water traffic, and heavily water pollution etc. It is no doubt that it is very important to protect and rehabilitate the natural Yangtze habitats. However, it seems that there is no chance for improvement of the Yangtze environment in the foreseeable future. Therefore, it is a practical measure to protect the animal from extinction by ex-situ conservation in a long run. Captive breeding is seen as one of essential practices of the ex-situ conservation for this animal. Obviously, the necessary knowledge on breeding biology plays a key role for successful captive breeding. To better understand the data on reproductive biology of the Yangtze finless porpoise, the previous works on the reproduction of the animal in recent 30 years are reviewed. And the present research status is expounded in terms of ecology, physiology, ethology, anatomy and histology. Some contradictions and controversial conclusions in previous studies are discussed in this paper. Furthermore, some important issues and urgent research points are also discussed to try to shed a light in further studies on breeding biology, and it is also hoped to provide a base for breeding program of this animal in captivity.

(Paper in Mandarin)