Distributions of Species

Seasonal variation in coastal marine habitat use by the European shag: Insights from fine scale habitat selection modeling and diet

Michelot C, Pinaud D, Fortin M, Maes P, Callard B, Leicher M, Barbraud C. Seasonal variation in coastal marine habitat use by the European shag: Insights from fine scale habitat selection modeling and diet. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography [Internet]. 2017 ;141:224 - 236. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0967064517301121
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Studies of habitat selection by higher trophic level species are necessary for using top predator species as indicators of ecosystem functioning. However, contrary to terrestrial ecosystems, few habitat selection studies have been conducted at a fine scale for coastal marine top predator species, and fewer have coupled diet data with habitat selection modeling to highlight a link between prey selection and habitat use.

The aim of this study was to characterize spatially and oceanographically, at a fine scale, the habitats used by the European Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis in the Special Protection Area (SPA) of Houat-Hœdic in the Mor Braz Bay during its foraging activity. Habitat selection models were built using in situ observation data of foraging shags (transect sampling) and spatially explicit environmental data to characterize marine benthic habitats. Observations were first adjusted for detectability biases and shag abundance was subsequently spatialized. The influence of habitat variables on shag abundance was tested using Generalized Linear Models (GLMs). Diet data were finally confronted to habitat selection models.

Results showed that European shags breeding in the Mor Braz Bay changed foraging habitats according to the season and to the different environmental and energetic constraints. The proportion of the main preys also varied seasonally. Rocky and coarse sand habitats were clearly preferred compared to fine or muddy sand habitats. Shags appeared to be more selective in their foraging habitats during the breeding period and the rearing of chicks, using essentially rocky areas close to the colony and consuming preferentially fish from the Labridae family and three other fish families in lower proportions. During the post-breeding period shags used a broader range of habitats and mainly consumed Gadidae. Thus, European shags seem to adjust their feeding strategy to minimize energetic costs, to avoid intra-specific competition and to maximize access to suitable habitats and preys.

Habitat modeling for cetacean management: Spatial distribution in the southern Pelagos Sanctuary (Mediterranean Sea)

Pennino MGrazia, Mérigot B, Fonseca VPrado, Monni V, Rotta A. Habitat modeling for cetacean management: Spatial distribution in the southern Pelagos Sanctuary (Mediterranean Sea). Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography [Internet]. 2017 ;141:203 - 211. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0967064516301904
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Effective management and conservation of wild populations requires knowledge of their habitats, especially by mean of quantitative analyses of their spatial distributions. The Pelagos Sanctuary is a dedicated marine protected area for Mediterranean marine mammals covering an area of 90,000 km2 in the north-western Mediterranean Sea between Italy, France and the Principate of Monaco. In the south of the Sanctuary, i.e. along the Sardinian coast, a range of diverse human activities (cities, industry, fishery, tourism) exerts several current ad potential threats to cetacean populations. In addition, marine mammals are recognized by the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive as essential components of sustainable ecosystems. Yet, knowledge on the spatial distribution and ecology of cetaceans in this area is quite scarce. Here we modeled occurrence of the three most abundant species known in the Sanctuary, i.e. the striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba), the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and the fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus), using sighting data from scientific surveys collected from 2012 to 2014 during summer time. Bayesian site-occupancy models were used to model their spatial distribution in relation to habitat taking into account oceanographic (sea surface temperature, primary production, photosynthetically active radiation, chlorophyll-a concentration) and topographic (depth, slope, distance of the land) variables. Cetaceans responded differently to the habitat features, with higher occurrence predicted in the more productive areas on submarine canyons. These results provide ecological information useful to enhance management plans and establish baseline for future population trend studies.

Ontogenetic spatial distributions of red grouper (Epinephelus morio) and gag grouper (Mycteroperca microlepis) in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico

Grüss A, Thorson JT, Sagarese SR, Babcock EA, Karnauskas M, Walter JF, Drexler M. Ontogenetic spatial distributions of red grouper (Epinephelus morio) and gag grouper (Mycteroperca microlepis) in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Fisheries Research [Internet]. 2017 ;193:129 - 142. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016578361730111X
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $35.95
Type: Journal Article

Mapping the spatial distributions of fish populations is an integral component of ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM). Particularly for red grouper (Epinephelus morio) and gag grouper (“gag”; Mycteroperca microlepis), two economically important species, the lack of mapping due to data limitations (i.e., inconsistent capture in research surveys) has left a critical gap in the science needed to assess how ecosystem processes and EBFM measures in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) impact their population dynamics. We combined multiple fisheries-dependent and fisheries-independent data sources to map the long-term spatial distributions of older juveniles and adults of red and gag groupers in the U.S. GOM, using spatio-temporal binomial generalized linear mixed models (GLMMs). Spatio-temporal binomial GLMMs rely on the idea that probability of encounter at a given site is more similar to probability of encounter at nearby sites than to probability of encounter at geographically remote locations; this tenet allows one to estimate a smoothed surface depicting how probability of encounter varies spatially. Our spatio-temporal binomial GLMMs do not integrate environmental covariates, yet they account for the effects of year and research survey. The distribution maps produced from the predictions of the spatio-temporal binomial GLMMs aligned with the current understanding of the long-term ontogenetic spatial distributions of red and gag groupers in the U.S. GOM. Red grouper was predicted to be encountered throughout the West Florida Shelf (WFS), primarily at depths ranging from 20 to 60 m. Both older juvenile and adult female gags were predicted to be encountered from Apalachicola, Florida, to the region northwest of Tampa, Florida, along the 20 m depth contour, especially in Apalachee Bay. The probability of encounter of adult female gag was also high in the Florida Middle Grounds and in deeper (>40 m) areas of the WFS. The probability of encounter of adult male gag was highest along the edge of the WFS, both inside recognized spawning grounds (including the Madison-Swanson marine protected area) and outside, i.e., below 27°N (including Pulley Ridge). The distribution maps produced are valuable for understanding the ecology of grouper species and can be used as a basis for further analyses. Our spatio-temporal binomial GLMM framework will serve many important EBFM projects, including the construction of reliable distribution maps in bulk for spatially explicit ecosystem models of the GOM, which will improve spatial distributions and species spatial overlaps in spatially explicit ecosystem models and, therefore, the trophic interactions predicted by these models.

Predicted distribution of whales at risk: identifying priority areas to enhance cetacean monitoring in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean

Gomez C, Lawson J, Kouwenberg AL, Moors-Murphy H, Buren A, Fuentes-Yaco C, Marotte E, Wiersma YF, Wimmer T. Predicted distribution of whales at risk: identifying priority areas to enhance cetacean monitoring in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean. Endangered Species Research [Internet]. 2017 ;32:437 - 458. Available from: http://www.int-res.com/abstracts/esr/v32/p437-458/
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Using long-term data from government, non-government, academic, and industry sources, we developed species distribution models (SDMs) to predict priority areas in which to target and enhance blue whale Balaenoptera musculus and northern bottlenose whale Hyperoodon ampullatus monitoring efforts in eastern Canada. Priority areas for blue whales were located primarily on the Scotian Shelf and along the south shelf break in waters off Newfoundland. Priority areas for northern bottlenose whales were identified primarily in areas along the edges of the eastern Scotian Shelf and the Newfoundland and Labrador Shelves, in submarine canyons, and deep basins. The SDM results and the tools presented in this study indicate that there are few conservation areas in eastern Canada that currently protect whales at risk, and that priority areas for blue and northern bottlenose whales overlap with regions where noise-producing activities (shipping and seismic exploration) occur. This study also highlighted large gaps in the cetacean data related to human activities (e.g. seismic survey lines are outdated and recent information from the past 5 to 10 yr is not available). The SDM approach developed in this study can be used as an iterative, adaptive process by including updated data as it becomes available, further refining and validating the SDM results and thereby improve our understanding of the distribution of cetaceans and noise-producing activities in eastern Canada.

Small proportions of silt linked to distinct and predictable differences in marine macrofaunal assemblages on the continental shelf of the Pacific Northwest

Henkel SK, Politano KK. Small proportions of silt linked to distinct and predictable differences in marine macrofaunal assemblages on the continental shelf of the Pacific Northwest. Continental Shelf Research [Internet]. 2017 . Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278434316306719
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $39.95
Type: Journal Article

Increasing interest in offshore development has motivated intensified efforts to map the seafloor for marine spatial planning. However, surficial geologic maps do not accurately represent habitats for various species groups of concern. This study used a bottom-up approach to integrate macrofaunal densities and benthic conditions on the Pacific Northwest shelf to identify macrofaunal assemblages and associated habitat features. Benthic cores and water-column profiles were collected from 137 stations from 50 to 110 m depth. Analyses grouping stations based on both similar species abundances and benthic conditions resulted in six broad habitats. Within the sampled depth and latitudinal range, sediment characteristics were the primary structuring variable. A major break in assemblages was detected between sediment that had less than 1% silt/clay and those containing more than 1% silt/clay. Assemblages differed primarily in the bivalve species present and secondarily in polychaete species. Within the greater than and less than 1% silt/clay habitats, further discretization of assemblages was based mostly on differing abundances of characteristic bivalves and polychaetes associated with differing median grain sizes, which did not correspond to traditional definitions of fine or medium sand. These data show that a bottom-up methodology is necessary to discern habitats for macrofauna and that site-specific physical sampling is necessary to predict macrofaunal assemblage composition. However, if detailed sediment characteristics are known, macrofaunal assemblages may be predicted without time-intensive biological sampling and processing. These results also indicate that seemingly small sedimentary changes due to offshore installations may have measureable effects on the relative abundances and even the species composition of macrofauna.

On the way for detecting and quantifying elusive species in the sea: The Octopus vulgaris case study

Mauvisseau Q, Parrondo M, Fernández MP, García L, Martínez JL, Garcia-Vazquez E, Borrell YJ. On the way for detecting and quantifying elusive species in the sea: The Octopus vulgaris case study. Fisheries Research [Internet]. 2017 ;191:41 - 48. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165783617300607
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $35.95
Type: Journal Article

Environmental DNA (eDNA) can be a powerful method for assessing the presence and the distribution of aquatic species. We used this tool in order to detect and quantify eDNA from the elusive species Octopus vulgaris, using qPCRs (SybrGreen protocol). We designed species-specific primers, and set up an experimental aquarium approach to validate the new molecular tool in different controlled conditions. Field validation was conducted from sea water samples taken from 8 locations within an octopus fishery area in the Cantabrian Sea during February–March 2016. A significant positive correlation between the total biomass (g of O. vulgaris within thanks) and the amount of O. vulgaris eDNA detected (p-value = 0.01261) was found in aquarium experiments. The species was also detected by PCR in 7 of the 8 water samples taken at sea, and successfully quantified by qPCR in 5 samples. This preliminary study and innovative method opens very promising perspectives for developing quick and cheap tools for the assessment of O. vulgaris distribution and abundance in the sea. The method could help in a close future for quantifying unseen and elusive marine species, thus contributing to establish sustainable fisheries.

Aligning marine species range data to better serve science and conservation

O'Hara CC, Afflerbach JC, Scarborough C, Kaschner K, Halpern BS. Aligning marine species range data to better serve science and conservation. PLOS ONE [Internet]. 2017 ;12(5):e0175739. Available from: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0175739
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Species distribution data provide the foundation for a wide range of ecological research studies and conservation management decisions. Two major efforts to provide marine species distributions at a global scale are the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which provides expert-generated range maps that outline the complete extent of a species' distribution; and AquaMaps, which provides model-generated species distribution maps that predict areas occupied by the species. Together these databases represent 24,586 species (93.1% within AquaMaps, 16.4% within IUCN), with only 2,330 shared species. Differences in intent and methodology can result in very different predictions of species distributions, which bear important implications for scientists and decision makers who rely upon these datasets when conducting research or informing conservation policy and management actions. Comparing distributions for the small subset of species with maps in both datasets, we found that AquaMaps and IUCN range maps show strong agreement for many well-studied species, but our analysis highlights several key examples in which introduced errors drive differences in predicted species ranges. In particular, we find that IUCN maps greatly overpredict coral presence into unsuitably deep waters, and we show that some AquaMaps computer-generated default maps (only 5.7% of which have been reviewed by experts) can produce odd discontinuities at the extremes of a species’ predicted range. We illustrate the scientific and management implications of these tradeoffs by repeating a global analysis of gaps in coverage of marine protected areas, and find significantly different results depending on how the two datasets are used. By highlighting tradeoffs between the two datasets, we hope to encourage increased collaboration between taxa experts and large scale species distribution modeling efforts to further improve these foundational datasets, helping to better inform science and policy recommendations around understanding, managing, and protecting marine biodiversity.

Summer refugia of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in the southern Beaufort Sea

Pongracz JD, Derocher AE. Summer refugia of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in the southern Beaufort Sea. Polar Biology [Internet]. 2017 ;40(4):753 - 763. Available from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00300-016-1997-8
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $39.95
Type: Journal Article

Climate change is altering habitats and causing changes to species behaviors and distributions. Rapid changes in Arctic sea ice ecosystems have increased the need to identify critical habitats for conservation and management of species such as polar bears (Ursus maritimus). We examined the distribution of adult female and subadult male and female polar bears tracked by satellite telemetry (n = 64 collars) in the southern Beaufort Sea, Canada, to identify summer refugia in 2007–2010. Using utilization distributions, we identified terrestrial and sea ice areas used as summer refugia when nearshore sea ice melted. Habitat use areas varied between months, but interannual variation was not significant. Overall, bears made high use of ice over shallow waters, and bears that remained near terrestrial areas used sea ice (presumably to hunt from) when it was available. The majority of the bears remained on sea ice during summer and used the edge of the pack ice most notably west of Banks Island, Canada. A mean of 27 % (range 22–33 %) of bears used terrestrial areas in Alaska and use was concentrated near the remains of subsistence harvested bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus). Energetic expenditure is anticipated to increase as bears are required to travel further on a seasonal basis.

Estimating cetacean density and abundance in the Central and Western Mediterranean Sea through aerial surveys: implications for Management

Panigada S, Lauriano G, Donovan G, Pierantonio N, Cañadas A, Vázquez JAntonio, Burt L. Estimating cetacean density and abundance in the Central and Western Mediterranean Sea through aerial surveys: implications for Management. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography [Internet]. 2017 . Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0967064517301418
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $39.95
Type: Journal Article

Systematic, effective monitoring of animal population parameters underpins successful conservation strategy and wildlife management, but it is often neglected in many regions, including much of the Mediterranean Sea. Nonetheless, a series of systematic multispecies aerial surveys was carried out in the seas around Italy to gather important baseline information on cetacean occurrence, distribution and abundance. The monitored areas included the Pelagos Sanctuary, the Tyrrhenian Sea, portions of the Seas of Corsica and Sardinia, the Ionian Seas as well as the Gulf of Taranto. Overall, approximately 48,000 km were flown in either spring, summer and winter between 2009–2014, covering an area of 444,621 km2. The most commonly observed species were the striped dolphin and the fin whale, with 975 and 83 recorded sightings, respectively. Other sighted cetacean species were the common bottlenose dolphin, the Risso's dolphin, the sperm whale, the pilot whale and the Cuvier's beaked whale. Uncorrected model- and design-based estimates of density and abundance for striped dolphins and fin whales were produced, resulting in a best estimate (model-based) of around 95,000 striped dolphins (CV=11.6%; 95% CI=92,900–120,300) occurring in the Pelagos Sanctuary, Central Tyrrhenian and Western Seas of Corsica and Sardinia combined area in summer 2010. Estimates were also obtained for each individual study region and year. An initial attempt to estimate perception bias for striped dolphins is also provided. The preferred summer 2010 uncorrected best estimate (design-based) for the same areas for fin whales was around 665 (CV=33.1%; 95% CI=350–1,260). Estimates are also provided for the individual study regions and years. The results represent baseline data to develop efficient, long-term, systematic monitoring programmes, essential to evaluate trends, as required by a number of national and international frameworks, and stress the need to ensure that surveys are undertaken regularly and at a sufficient spatial scale. The management implications of the results are discussed also in light of a possible decline of fin whales abundance over the period from the mid-1990s to the present. Further work to understand changes in distribution and to allow for improved spatial models is emphasized.

Localised residency and inter-annual fidelity to coastal foraging areas may place sea bass at risk to local depletion

Doyle TK, Haberlin D, Clohessy J, Bennison A, Jessopp M. Localised residency and inter-annual fidelity to coastal foraging areas may place sea bass at risk to local depletion. Scientific Reports [Internet]. 2017 ;8:45841. Available from: https://www.nature.com/articles/srep45841
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

For many marine migratory fish, comparatively little is known about the movement of individuals rather than the population. Yet, such individual-based movement data is vitally important to understand variability in migratory strategies and fidelity to foraging locations. A case in point is the economically important European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax L.) that inhabits coastal waters during the summer months before migrating offshore to spawn and overwinter. Beyond this broad generalisation we have very limited information on the movements of individuals at coastal foraging grounds. We used acoustic telemetry to track the summer movements and seasonal migrations of individual sea bass in a large tidally and estuarine influenced coastal environment. We found that the vast majority of tagged sea bass displayed long-term residency (mean, 167 days) and inter-annual fidelity (93% return rate) to specific areas. We describe individual fish home ranges of 3 km or less, and while fish clearly had core resident areas, there was movement of fish between closely located receivers. The combination of inter-annual fidelity to localised foraging areas makes sea bass very susceptible to local depletion; however, the designation of protected areas for sea bass may go a long way to ensuring the sustainability of this species.

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