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Silva M.A.,University of The Azores | Silva M.A.,Laboratory of Robotics and Systems in Engineering and Science LARSyS | Silva M.A.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | Prieto R.,University of The Azores | And 5 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

The need to balance energy reserves during migration is a critical factor for most long-distance migrants and an important determinant of migratory strategies in birds, insects and land mammals. Large baleen whales migrate annually between foraging and breeding sites, crossing vast ocean areas where food is seldom abundant. How whales respond to the demands and constraints of such long migrations remains unknown. We applied a behaviour discriminating hierarchical state-space model to the satellite tracking data of 12 fin whales and 3 blue whales tagged off the Azores, to investigate their movements, behaviour (transiting and area-restricted search, ARS) and daily activity cycles during the spring migration. Fin and blue whales remained at middle latitudes for prolonged periods, spending most of their time there in ARS behaviour. While near the Azores, fin whale ARS behaviour occurred within a restricted area, with a high degree of overlap among whales. There were noticeable behavioural differences along the migratory pathway of fin whales tracked to higher latitudes: ARS occurred only in the Azores and north of 56°N, whereas in between these areas whales travelled at higher overall speeds while maintaining a nearly direct trajectory. This suggests fin whales may alternate periods of active migration with periods of extended use of specific habitats along the migratory route. ARS behaviour in blue whales occurred over a much wider area as whales slowly progressed northwards. The tracks of these whales terminated still at middle latitudes, before any behavioural switch was detected. Fin whales exhibited behavioural-specific diel rhythms in swimming speed but these varied significantly between geographic areas, possibly due to differences in the day-night cycle across areas. Finally, we show a link between fin whales seen in the Azores and those summering in eastern Greenland-western Iceland along a migratory corridor located in central Atlantic waters. © 2013 Silva et al.


Pham C.K.,University of The Azores | Pham C.K.,Laboratory of Robotics and Systems in Engineering and Science LARSyS | Ramirez-Llodra E.,CSIC - Institute of Marine Sciences | Ramirez-Llodra E.,Norwegian Institute for Water Research | And 24 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Anthropogenic litter is present in all marine habitats, from beaches to the most remote points in the oceans. On the seafloor, marine litter, particularly plastic, can accumulate in high densities with deleterious consequences for its inhabitants. Yet, because of the high cost involved with sampling the seafloor, no large-scale assessment of distribution patterns was available to date. Here, we present data on litter distribution and density collected during 588 video and trawl surveys across 32 sites in European waters. We found litter to be present in the deepest areas and at locations as remote from land as the Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone across the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The highest litter density occurs in submarine canyons, whilst the lowest density can be found on continental shelves and on ocean ridges. Plastic was the most prevalent litter item found on the seafloor. Litter from fishing activities (derelict fishing lines and nets) was particularly common on seamounts, banks, mounds and ocean ridges. Our results highlight the extent of the problem and the need for action to prevent increasing accumulation of litter in marine environments. © 2014 Pham et al.


Abecasis D.,University of Algarve | Afonso P.,University of The Azores | Afonso P.,Laboratory of Robotics and Systems in Engineering and Science LARSyS | Erzini K.,University of Algarve
Marine Ecology Progress Series | Year: 2014

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are today's most important tools for the spatial management and conservation of marine species. Yet, the true protection that they provide to individual fish is unknown, leading to uncertainty associated with MPA effectiveness. In this study, conducted in a recently established coastal MPA in Portugal, we combined the results of individual home range estimation and population distribution models for 3 species of commercial importance and contrasting life histories to infer (1) the size of suitable areas where they would be fully protected and (2) the vulnerability to fishing mortality of each species. Results show that the relationship between MPA size and effective protection is strongly modulated by both the species' home range and the distribution of suitable habitat inside and outside the MPA. This approach provides a better insight into the true potential of MPAs in effectively protecting marine species, since it can reveal the size and location of the areas where protection is most effective and a clear, quantitative estimation of the vulnerability to fishing throughout an entire MPA. © Inter-Research 2014


Rodrigues S.S.,Johann Radon Institute for Computational and Applied Mathematics RICAM | Aguiar A.P.,University of Porto | Aguiar A.P.,Laboratory of Robotics and Systems in Engineering and Science LARSyS
2013 European Control Conference, ECC 2013 | Year: 2013

Given a class of nonlinear systems with implicitly defined outputs, we provide a new algorithm to find appropriate local coordinates, in which the resulting system takes a desired target form that is state-affine, up to output and input injection. Once in the target form, it is possible to construct a state-space observer with linear, possibly time-varying, error dynamics. © 2013 EUCA.

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