Alnilam Research and Conservation

Hoyo de Manzanares, Spain

Alnilam Research and Conservation

Hoyo de Manzanares, Spain

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Canadas A.,ALNILAM Research and Conservation | Vazquez J.A.,ALNILAM Research and Conservation
Deep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography | Year: 2017

The short-beaked common dolphin Mediterranean subpopulation appears to have suffered a steep decline over recent decades and was listed in 2003 as 'Endangered' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Alboran Sea is the last region in the Mediterranean where it is still abundant. In this study, we relate features of this species' ecology to climate change, focusing on distribution and density. This work used a two decades-long dataset on the common dolphin in the Alboran Sea and a time series of environmental changes. Once established, these relationships were used in conjunction with some simulated scenarios of environmental change to predict the potential effects of further change on these species over the next 100 years. Two approaches were used: 1) projection from a regression line from local variation, and 2) a HadCM3 climate model with time-varying anthropogenic effects. Generalized Additive Models were used to model the relationship between density of the animals with SST and other environmental covariates. Results from both approaches were very similar. The predictions of density from the regression line fell within the ranges from the HadCM3 climate model, the first being based on local and locally, point to point, differentiated information, which lead us to consider the first approach as the best for this area. At the small spatial scale of the Alboran Sea and Gulf of Vera, an increase in SST will potentially yield a reduction in suitable habitat for common dolphins, with a progressive reduction in density from east to west. © 2017 Elsevier Ltd.

Druon J.-N.,European Commission - Joint Research Center Ispra | Panigada S.,Tethys Research Institute | David L.,EcoOcean Institute | Gannier A.,British Petroleum | And 7 more authors.
Marine Ecology Progress Series | Year: 2012

The development of synoptic tools is required to derive the potential habitat of fin whales Balaenoptera physalus on a large-scale basis in the Mediterranean Sea, as the species has a largely unknown distribution and is at high risk of ship strike. We propose a foraging habitat model for fin whales in the western Mediterranean Sea relying on species ecology for the choice of predictors. The selected environmental variables are direct predictors and resource predictors available at daily and basin scales. Feeding habitat was determined mainly from the simultaneous occurrence of large oceanic fronts of satellite-derived sea-surface chlorophyll content (chl a) and temperature (SST). A specific range of surface chl a content (0.11 to 0.39 mg m-3) and a minimum water depth (92 m) were also identified to be important regional criteria. Daily maps were calibrated and evaluated against independent sets of fin whale sightings (presence data only). Specific chl a fronts represented the main predictor of feeding environment; therefore, derived habitat is a potential, rather than effective, habitat, but is functionally linked to a proxy of its resource (chl a production of fronts). The model performs well, with 80% of the presence data <9.7 km from the predicted potential habitat. The computed monthly, seasonal and annual maps of potential feeding habitat from 2000 to 2010 correlate, for the most part, with current knowledge on fin whale ecology. Overall, fin whale potential habitat occurs frequently during summer in dynamic areas of the general circulation, and is substantially more spread over the basin in winter. However, the results also displayed high year-to-year variations (40 to 50%), which are essential to consider when assessing migration patterns and recommending protection and conservation measures. © Inter-Research 2012.

Esteban R.,Conservation Information and Research on Cetaceans | Verborgh P.,Conservation Information and Research on Cetaceans | Gauffier P.,Conservation Information and Research on Cetaceans | Gimenez J.,Gema Inc | And 7 more authors.
Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom | Year: 2014

Killer whales have been described in the Gulf of Cadiz, southern Spain, in spring and in the Strait of Gibraltar in summer. A total of 11,276 cetaceans sightings coming from different sources (dedicated research surveys, whale watching companies and opportunistic observations) were used to create two presence-'pseudo-absence' predictive generalized additive models (GAM), where presence data were defined as sightings of killer whales and 'pseudo-absence' data as sightings of other cetacean species. One model was created using spring data when killer whales' main prey, Atlantic bluefin tuna, enter the Mediterranean Sea, and the other model used summer data when Atlantic bluefin tuna return to the Atlantic Ocean. Both model predictions show that killer whales are highly associated with a probable distribution of bluefin tuna during their migration throughout the study area, constraining their distribution to the Gulf of Cadiz in spring and the Strait of Gibraltar in spring and summer. Knowledge of the distribution of killer whales in the study area is essential to establish conservation measures for this population. © 2013 Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom .

Wierucka K.,Information and Research on Cetaceans | Verborgh P.,Information and Research on Cetaceans | Meade R.,Information and Research on Cetaceans | Colmant L.,Information and Research on Cetaceans | And 4 more authors.
Marine Ecology Progress Series | Year: 2014

Long-finned pilot whales Globicephala melas are a commonly encountered species in the Mediterranean Sea. In 2006-2007, an outbreak of the dolphin morbillivirus in the Western Mediterranean resulted in increased mortality of this species. The aim of this study was to determine whether survival rates differed between clusters of Spanish Medi - terranean pilot whales, and how the epizootic in - fluenced these survival rates. Photo-identification surveys were conducted between 1992 and 2009. Association indices were used to define clusters of individuals that associate with each other more frequently than with others. Based on a Cormack-Jolly- Seber survival rate model, apparent survival rate estimates varied from 0.821 to 0.995 over 11 clusters for the 1992-2009 period. When the effect of the morbillivirus outbreak was modeled, 3 clusters with distinctly lower survival rates from previous models presented lower estimates after the outbreak (survival rate dropped from 0.919 [95% CI: 0.854-0.956] to 0.547 [95% CI: 0.185-0.866]), suggesting a negative influence of the epizootic or other unknown additive factors on certain clusters. This information is critical for the conservation of long-finned pilot whales, since they are listed as 'data deficient' in the Mediterranean Sea by the IUCN and as 'vulnerable' in the Spanish National Catalogue of Endangered Species. © Inter-Research 2014.

De Stephanis R.,CSIC - Doñana Biological Station | Gimenez J.,CSIC - Doñana Biological Station | Carpinelli E.,Information and Research on Cetaceans | Gutierrez-Exposito C.,CSIC - Doñana Biological Station | Canadas A.,Alnilam Research and Conservation
Marine Pollution Bulletin | Year: 2013

Marine debris has been found in marine animals since the early 20th century, but little is known about the impacts of the ingestion of debris in large marine mammals. In this study we describe a case of mortality of a sperm whale related to the ingestion of large amounts of marine debris in the Mediterranean Sea (4th published case worldwide to our knowledge), and discuss it within the context of the spatial distribution of the species and the presence of anthropogenic activities in the area that could be the source of the plastic debris found inside the sperm whale. The spatial distribution modelled for the species in the region shows that these animals can be seen in two distinct areas: near the waters of Almería, Granada and Murcia and in waters near the Strait of Gibraltar. The results shows how these animals feed in waters near an area completely flooded by the greenhouse industry, making them vulnerable to its waste products if adequate treatment of this industry's debris is not in place. Most types of these plastic materials have been found in the individual examined and cause of death was presumed to be gastric rupture following impaction with debris, which added to a previous problem of starvation. The problem of plastics arising from greenhouse agriculture should have a relevant section in the conservation plans and should be a recommendation from ACCOBAMS due to these plastics' and sperm whales' high mobility in the Mediterranean Sea. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Borchers D.L.,University of St. Andrews | Zucchini W.,University of Gottingen | Heide-Jorgensen M.P.,Greenland Institute of Natural Resources | Canadas A.,Alnilam Research and Conservation | Langrock R.,University of St. Andrews
Biometrics | Year: 2013

We develop estimators for line transect surveys of animals that are stochastically unavailable for detection while within detection range. The detection process is formulated as a hidden Markov model with a binary state-dependent observation model that depends on both perpendicular and forward distances. This provides a parametric method of dealing with availability bias when estimates of availability process parameters are available even if series of availability events themselves are not. We apply the estimators to an aerial and a shipboard survey of whales, and investigate their properties by simulation. They are shown to be more general and more flexible than existing estimators based on parametric models of the availability process. We also find that methods using availability correction factors can be very biased when surveys are not close to being instantaneous, as can estimators that assume temporal independence in availability when there is temporal dependence. © 2013, The International Biometric Society.

Dinis A.,Madeira Whale Museum | Dinis A.,University of Madeira | Dinis A.,The Interdisciplinary Center | Alves F.,Madeira Whale Museum | And 9 more authors.
African Journal of Marine Science | Year: 2016

The bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus is one of the most frequently sighted cetacean species in the Madeira Archipelago (North-East Atlantic); however, little is known about its population ecology in these waters. Photo-identification undertaken during systematic, non-systematic and opportunistic surveys conducted between 2001 and 2012 was used to assess group dynamics, site fidelity, residency and movement patterns of bottlenose dolphins in the archipelago. Three different patterns of residency were assigned, based on individual sighting histories. Group size ranged between 2 and 90 individuals (median 12), with no significant monthly difference in group size. All resident dolphins formed a core, complex network with migrant and transient dolphins. In contrast, satellite clusters were formed exclusively by transient individuals. The lagged identification rate (LIR) model indicated that a dolphin remained in the area for an average of 90 days, whereas the average time an individual spent outside the study area was approximately 313 days. The Madeira Archipelago appears to be only a section of a much larger home range for this population, with the dolphins exhibiting three different patterns of occurrence that associate with each other. The information gained about this poorly studied population contributes to the overall knowledge of bottlenose dolphins in insular oceanic habitats. © 2016 NISC (Pty) Ltd

Canadas A.,ALNILAM Research and Conservation | Vazquez J.A.,ALNILAM Research and Conservation
Biological Conservation | Year: 2014

Links between atypical mass strandings of beaked whales and military manoeuvres have been demonstrated in several parts of the Mediterranean, including the Alboran Sea. Herein, information on the distribution and abundance of Cuvier's beaked whales is presented for the Alboran Sea. Such information is of great importance to allow the impacts of mass strandings, entanglements, etc. to be put in a population context and to highlight the most important areas for this species which may be focus for conservation action. Data used for these analyses come from two sources: summers 2008-2009 on board the vessel Alliance; and 1992-2009 surveys under the umbrella of the NGO Alnitak. A detection function was obtained using distance sampling methods and density surface modeling was undertaken. Availability bias correction factors were estimated for different platforms and vessel speeds and applied during the spatial modeling exercise. The final estimate of density (in animals/km2) corrected for the availability bias was 0.0054 (CV=22%). Based on these results, and a comparison with estimates from elsewhere, it is clear that the Alboran Sea supports one of the highest densities of Cuvier's beaked whales in the world. This information and the proposed management measures are being used by the Spanish Ministry for Agriculture, Food and Environment to assess the possibility of increasing the level of protection of this species by either to promote a proposal for a Marine Protected Area designation or to include Cuvier's beaked whales in the Spanish catalogue of threatened species in the "Vulnerable" category. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

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