MOm Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal

Athens, Greece

MOm Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal

Athens, Greece
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Karamanlidis A.A.,MOm Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk seal | Curtis P.J.,University of British Columbia | Hirons A.C.,Nova Southeastern University | Psaradellis M.,MOm Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk seal | And 4 more authors.
Isotopes in Environmental and Health Studies | Year: 2014

Understanding the ecology and behaviour of endangered species is essential for developing effective management and conservation strategies. We used stable isotope analysis to investigate the foraging behaviour of critically endangered Mediterranean monk seals (Monachus monachus) in Greece. We measured carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios (expressed as δ13C and δ15N values, respectively) derived from the hair of deceased adult and juvenile seals and the muscle of their known prey to quantify their diets. We tested the hypothesis that monk seals primarily foraged for prey that occupy coastal habitats in Greece. We compared isotope values from seal hair to their coastal and pelagic prey (after correcting all prey for isotopic discrimination) and used these isotopic data and a stable isotope mixing model to estimate the proportion of coastal and pelagic resources consumed by seals. As predicted, we found that seals had similar δ13C values as many coastal prey species and higher δ13C values than pelagic species; these results, in conjunction with mean dietary estimates (coastal=61 % vs. pelagic=39 %), suggest that seals have a diverse diet comprising prey from multiple trophic levels that primarily occupy the coast. Marine resource managers should consider using the results from this study to inform the future management of coastal habitats in Greece to protect Mediterranean monk seals. © 2014 © 2014 Taylor & Francis.

Verges A.,University of New South Wales | Verges A.,Sydney Institute of Marine science | Tomas F.,CSIC - Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies | Tomas F.,Oregon State University | And 9 more authors.
Journal of Ecology | Year: 2014

1. A striking example of climate-mediated range shifts in marine systems is the intrusion of tropical species into temperate areas world-wide, but we know very little about the ecological consequences of these range expansions. 2. In the Mediterranean Sea, the range expansion of tropical rabbitfishes that first entered the basin via the Suez Canal provides a good example of how tropical herbivorous fish can impact the structure of rocky bottoms in temperate seas. Two species of rabbitfishes have now become a dominant component of total fish biomass in the southernmost part of the eastern Mediterranean. Experimental evidence shows these species can profoundly transform benthic communities, turning algal forests into 'barrens', but the specific mechanisms that facilitate this shift have not been established. 3. We surveyed ~1000 km of coastline in the eastern Mediterranean and identified two clearly distinct areas, a warmer group of regions with abundant tropical rabbitfish and a colder group of regions where these consumers were absent/ extremely rare. In regions with abundant rabbitfish, canopy algae were 65% less abundant, and there was a 60% reduction of overall benthic biomass (algae and invertebrates) and a 40% decrease in total species richness. 4. Video-recorded feeding experiments showed that the extensive barrens characteristic of regions with abundant rabbitfish were not due to greater rates of herbivory by these tropical consumers, but rather by functional differences among the herbivores. Temperate herbivorous fish displayed the greatest macroalgae consumption rates overall, but they fed exclusively on established adult macroalgae. In contrast, in regions with abundant rabbitfishes, these consumers fed complementarily on both established macroalgae and on the epilithic algal matrix, which typically contains macroalgal recruits. 5. Synthesis. Range-shifting tropical rabbitfish can severely reduce the biomass and biodiversity of temperate reefs at a scale of hundreds of kilometres. A shift from macroalgal dominance to barrens is mediated by the addition of functionally diverse herbivores that characterize tropical reefs. This work highlights the importance of assessing the functional traits of range-shifting species to determine potential mechanisms of impact on ecological communities. © 2014 The Authors. Journal of Ecology © 2014 British Ecological Society.

Charrier I.,University Paris - Sud | Marchesseau S.,University Paris - Sud | Dendrinos P.,MOm Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal | Tounta E.,MOm Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal | Karamanlidis A.A.,MOm Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal
Endangered Species Research | Year: 2017

The Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus is considered Endangered by the IUCN, and is the most endangered pinniped in the world. Increasing our knowledge of this species is crucial in order to further our understanding of its social behaviour, but also to develop new methods to monitor and protect it. In many species, acoustic communication plays a major role in social interactions, and vocal signals convey important information about the emitter understanding the diverse information encoded in vocalizations is helpful in wildlife monitoring. In the present study, we used passive, audio-video surveys to describe the aerial vocal repertoire of the Mediterranean monk seal during the pupping season. An exhaustive analysis was performed on the different call types, and individual vocal signatures were investigated. A total of 5 call types were identified: bark, chirp, grunt, short scream and scream, with bark and scream being the 2 main call types. A discriminant function analysis based on 10 acoustic variables revealed that all call types except grunts can be correctly classified, with an average rate of 86.7%. Furthermore, the individual vocal signature investigated in barks and screams revealed that both call types are individually specific, showing average correct classification rates of 54.2 and 66.1% respectively. Based on these findings, future research should focus on collecting new recordings from wellidentified seals to develop a new passive acoustic monitoring system based on individual identification. This system will enable the evaluation of annual pup production and thus provide essential information on the conservation status of the Mediterranean monk seal in Greece. © The authors 2017.

Giakoumi S.,Hellenic Center for Marine Research | Giakoumi S.,University of Queensland | Sini M.,University of Aegean | Gerovasileiou V.,Aristotle University of Thessaloniki | And 16 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Spatial priorities for the conservation of three key Mediterranean habitats, i.e. seagrass Posidonia oceanica meadows, coralligenous formations, and marine caves, were determined through a systematic planning approach. Available information on the distribution of these habitats across the entire Mediterranean Sea was compiled to produce basin-scale distribution maps. Conservation targets for each habitat type were set according to European Union guidelines. Surrogates were used to estimate the spatial variation of opportunity cost for commercial, non-commercial fishing, and aquaculture. Marxan conservation planning software was used to evaluate the comparative utility of two planning scenarios: (a) a whole-basin scenario, referring to selection of priority areas across the whole Mediterranean Sea, and (b) an ecoregional scenario, in which priority areas were selected within eight predefined ecoregions. Although both scenarios required approximately the same total area to be protected in order to achieve conservation targets, the opportunity cost differed between them. The whole-basin scenario yielded a lower opportunity cost, but the Alboran Sea ecoregion was not represented and priority areas were predominantly located in the Ionian, Aegean, and Adriatic Seas. In comparison, the ecoregional scenario resulted in a higher representation of ecoregions and a more even distribution of priority areas, albeit with a higher opportunity cost. We suggest that planning at the ecoregional level ensures better representativeness of the selected conservation features and adequate protection of species, functional, and genetic diversity across the basin. While there are several initiatives that identify priority areas in the Mediterranean Sea, our approach is novel as it combines three issues: (a) it is based on the distribution of habitats and not species, which was rarely the case in previous efforts, (b) it considers spatial variability of cost throughout this socioeconomically heterogeneous basin, and (c) it adopts ecoregions as the most appropriate level for large-scale planning. © 2013 Giakoumi et al.

Papadopoulos E.,Aristotle University of Thessaloniki | Loukopoulos P.,Aristotle University of Thessaloniki | Komnenou A.,Aristotle University of Thessaloniki | Androukaki E.,MOm Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal | Karamanlidis A.A.,MOm Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal
Journal of Wildlife Diseases | Year: 2010

The Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) is one of the world's most endangered marine mammals. The largest population is located mainly throughout the Aegean and Ionian islands and along the coastline of southern continental Greece. We report the findings of a necropsy and discuss their potential importance to the conservation of the species. The adult female monk seal appeared to be in a good nutritional state. The main necropsy findings were injuries consistent with a violent and sudden death, including three round wounds on the ventral surface of the body and several hematomas, as well as a decomposing male fetus in the uterus. Two nematodes were found in the right ventricle of the heart; no abnormalities were observed in the lungs, pulmonary vessels, or heart. The nematodes were identified as Acanthocheilonema spirocauda. This is the first report of infection of the Mediterranean monk seal with A. spirocauda, even though this is the most common heartworm found in most pinnipeds worldwide. This parasite should be considered in health care monitoring projects of this endangered species. © Wildlife Disease Association 2010.

Karamanlidis A.A.,MOm Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal | Dendrinos P.,MOm Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal | de Larrinoa P.F.,Fundacion CBD Habitat | Gucu A.C.,Middle East Technical University | And 3 more authors.
Mammal Review | Year: 2016

The Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus is the most endangered seal species. In this review we summarize the status, ecology, and behaviour of the Mediterranean monk seal, and identify the main threats that currently affect the species and the conservation priorities for securing its survival. Once abundant throughout the Black Sea and Mediterranean, as well as off the Atlantic coasts of northwestern Africa and Macaronesia, the Mediterranean monk seal has recently suffered dramatic declines, both in abundance and geographical range. It is now estimated that fewer than 700 individuals survive in three or four isolated subpopulations in the eastern and western Mediterranean, the archipelago of Madeira and the Cabo Blanco area in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean. Mediterranean monk seals are coastal marine mammals. When resting and pupping on land, individuals generally seek refuge in inaccessible marine caves; this behaviour is, in part, believed to be an adaptation to increased disturbance by humans. Larger aggregations or colonies of the species can now be found only at Cabo Blanco in the Atlantic Ocean and on the island of Gyaros in the eastern Mediterranean. The main threats to the survival of the Mediterranean monk seal are habitat deterioration; deliberate killing, mainly by fishermen; and accidental entanglement and drowning in fishing gear. Limited availability of food sources and stochastic and unusual events have occasionally also contributed to Mediterranean monk seal mortality. Based on a common consensus among scientists and conservationists, the main conservation priorities for the monk seal are: habitat protection; mitigating negative interactions between seals and fisheries; scientific research and monitoring of local seal populations; education and public awareness campaigns; and rescue and rehabilitation of wounded, sick, and orphaned seals. © 2016 The Mammal Society and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Sala E.,National Geographic Society | Sala E.,CSIC - Center for Advanced Studies of Blanes | Ballesteros E.,CSIC - Center for Advanced Studies of Blanes | Dendrinos P.,MOm Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal | And 26 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Historical exploitation of the Mediterranean Sea and the absence of rigorous baselines makes it difficult to evaluate the current health of the marine ecosystems and the efficacy of conservation actions at the ecosystem level. Here we establish the first current baseline and gradient of ecosystem structure of nearshore rocky reefs at the Mediterranean scale. We conducted underwater surveys in 14 marine protected areas and 18 open access sites across the Mediterranean, and across a 31-fold range of fish biomass (from 3.8 to 118 g m -2). Our data showed remarkable variation in the structure of rocky reef ecosystems. Multivariate analysis showed three alternative community states: (1) large fish biomass and reefs dominated by non-canopy algae, (2) lower fish biomass but abundant native algal canopies and suspension feeders, and (3) low fish biomass and extensive barrens, with areas covered by turf algae. Our results suggest that the healthiest shallow rocky reef ecosystems in the Mediterranean have both large fish and algal biomass. Protection level and primary production were the only variables significantly correlated to community biomass structure. Fish biomass was significantly larger in well-enforced no-take marine reserves, but there were no significant differences between multi-use marine protected areas (which allow some fishing) and open access areas at the regional scale. The gradients reported here represent a trajectory of degradation that can be used to assess the health of any similar habitat in the Mediterranean, and to evaluate the efficacy of marine protected areas.

Munoz G.,Western Illinois University | Karamanlidis A.A.,MOm Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal | Dendrinos P.,MOm Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal | Thomas J.A.,Western Illinois University
Aquatic Mammals | Year: 2011

It is important that all aspects of the life history and behavior of Mediterranean monk seals (Monachus monachus) are documented to ensure effective man-agement and conservation of this critically endan-gered species. Little is known about either airborne or underwater vocalizations for this species. Field research and rehabilitation of Mediterranean monk seal pups by MOm (MOm/Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal) provided opportunistic video recordings of the airborne sounds of this species. This study is the first to report acoustic features of airborne vocalizations from eight wild adult females and six of their pups, short-term recordings of a sick pup, and longer-term recordings of three rehabilitating pups. Although sample sizes are small, every effort was made to garner the most acoustic information from these recordings. The aims of this study were to document the acoustic properties and types of aerial vocaliza-tions from wild and rehabilitating Mediterranean monk seals and to compare the acoustic features of their sound repertoire to the airborne vocalization characteristics of other monachids.Audio-tracks were spectrographically analyzed using six frequency and five time variables with Spectrogram software. Through examination of real-time spectrograms and audibly distinguishable char-acteristics, this study classified four airborne vocal-ization types (bark, snort, scream, and chirp) for adult females. Three aerial vocalization types (bark, gaggle, and squawk) were documented from pups. The bark was the most common vocalization type from wild and rehabilitating pups. Wild adult female Mediterranean monk seal vocalizations ranged in frequency from 438 to 3,050 Hz and consisted of 1 to 6 components within a series with a total duration from 42 to 8,171 ms. Airborne vocalization types of rehabilitating pups ranged in frequency from 269 to 1,584 Hz and consisted of 1 to 11 components within a series with a total duration from 88 to 12,006 ms. Using Pearson's correlation analyses, many of the frequency and time variables were highly correlated. Principle Component Analysis (PCA), using nine variables, produced a 3-factor model that explained 98.8% of the variability in the acoustic features of the whole repertoire. A more parsimonious, 3-factor PCA model, using only six variables, still explained a high percentage of variability (81.5%). These results indicated that collecting only two frequency measurements (beginning frequency and first harmonic interval) and four time measurements (number of components within a series, total duration, component duration, and the component interval) is sufficient to distinguish among species-specific vocalizations. Results of this acoustical analysis are from a small number of Mediterranean monk seals, and further acoustic research is warranted to record adult males, and to increase the sample sizes of vocalizations from wild adult females and pups. In addition, more recordings of ill, stressed, and captive monk seals are needed. Lastly, vocalizations of wild Mediterranean monk seals should be studied at the other two main population sites (i.e., Archipelago of Madeira and Cabo Blanco region), at other times of the year, and outside of the breeding season to provide a better understanding of the overall vocal behavior of this species. The preliminary analyses presented herein hold promise that with sufficient data on acoustic features of airborne vocalizations researchers could acoustically monitor wild Mediterranean monk seals and determine their sex, pup age, and perhaps their health.

Hale R.,University of Porto | Pires R.,Parque Natural da Madeira | Santos P.,University of Porto | Karamanlidis A.A.,MOm Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal
Aquatic Mammals | Year: 2011

Marine mammal and fishery interactions have increased concurrently with human population growth and subsequent increases in demand for fisheries products. As a result, populations of marine mammals and the livelihood of coastal fishermen have both been adversely affected. Mediterranean monk seals (Monachus monachus) are among the most endangered marine mammals in the world that have been impacted by fisheries. The aim of this study was to understand the nature and assess the magnitude of monk seal-fisheries interactions in the Archipelago of Madeira and to propose a set of conservation measures to mitigate them. Information on interactions was collected during questionnaire surveys conducted at the main fishing port of Madeira, where approximately 14% of all the fishermen and 59% of all fishing vessels in the Archipelago were interviewed. Most fishermen (91%) believed that fish stocks were declining in their region, but few (1%) considered the monk seal to be the principal reason for this negative trend. Furthermore, only 30% of the fishermen interviewed had experienced monk seal-fishing gear interactions. These interactions occurred mainly in summer, in the morning, at depths between 0 to 50 m and below 100 m, and affected mainly hand-lines for demersal species. At the same time, no records of entangled monk seals in fishing gear were reported. Compared to other areas in the species' range, the intensity of potentially negative monk seal-fisheries interactions in the Archipelago of Madeira is lower, and they do not currently constitute a threat to the survival of the species. We believe that this is due to the fact that the use of fishing nets in the region has been banned, and fishers have switched to alternative, less harmful fishing methods. Proposed conservation actions should include promoting environmental awareness, the production of a "Good Fishing Conduct" manual, and the increase in surveillance and enforcement of fishing regulations.

PubMed | MOm Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal, University of Bologna and University of Siena
Type: | Journal: The Science of the total environment | Year: 2016

The Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) is one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world. The biggest sub-population of the species survives in Greece, where understanding the effects of pollution on the survival of the species has been identified as a national research and conservation priority. From 1990 to 2013 we collected tissue samples from 59 deceased monk seals in order to: (i) Define the concentration of trace elements (As, Pb, Cd, Hg, Se, Cr, Ni) in three different matrices (i.e., blubber, liver and kidney), (ii) Determine whether differences in trace element concentrations are age- or gender-related, (iii) Evaluate the potential effects of these pollutants. The study recorded differences in trace element concentrations among matrices, but in general, trace element exposure in Mediterranean monk seals in Greece was low and within the non-acutely toxic levels for Pinnipeds. Only arsenic concentrations were at the upper limit of the normal range observed in other marine mammals (0.690.55mg/kg w.w. in blubber, 0.790.62mg/kg w.w. in liver and 0.790.59mg/kg w.w. in kidney). We recorded also exceptionally high Hg concentrations in a single adult female (24.88mg/kg w.w.). Age- and gender-related differences were also recorded and were due to various biological, ecological and chemical factors. Based on the results of the study, potentially adverse effects on the immune and endocrine system of the Mediterranean monk seal from some pollutants (e.g., As, Cd, Se, Ni, Cr) cannot be ruled out, which may expose the Mediterranean seal population in Greece to epizootics and stochastic phenomena of mass mortality. It is therefore of utmost importance that pollutant monitoring becomes an integral component of the standard monitoring protocol of the endangered Mediterranean monk seal in the eastern Mediterranean.

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