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Karamanlidis A.A.,MOm Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal | Gaughran S.,American Museum of Natural History | Gaughran S.,University of St. Andrews | Aguilar A.,University of Barcelona | And 6 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2016

Halting biodiversity loss is one of the major conservation challenges of our time and science-based conservation actions are required to safeguard the survival of endangered species. However the establishment of effective conservation strategies may be hampered by inherent difficulties of studying elusive animals. We used analysis of control region sequences to obtain baseline information on the genetic diversity and population structure and history of the elusive and critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal that will help define an effective conservation strategy for the species. We analyzed 165 samples collected throughout the entire extant range of the species and identified 5 haplotypes. Based on levels of genetic diversity (haplotypic diversity: 0.03; variable sites: 0.6%) the Mediterranean monk seal appears to be one of the most genetically depauperate mammals on Earth. We identified three genetically distinct monk seal subpopulations: one in the north Atlantic [Cabo Blanco vs. Aegean Sea (FST=0.733; P = 0.000); Cabo Blanco vs. Ionian Sea (FST=0.925; P = 0.000)] and two in the Mediterranean, one in the Ionian and another one in the Aegean Sea (Ionian vs. Aegean Sea FST=0.577; P = 0.000). Results indicate a recent divergence and short evolutionary history of the extant Mediterranean monk seal subpopulations. Based on the results we recommend continuation of the monitoring efforts for the species and systematic collection of genetic samples and storage in dedicated sample banks. On a management level we argue that, based on genetic evidence, it is justified to manage the Atlantic and Mediterranean monk seal subpopulations as two separate management units. In Greece, the existence of two subpopulations should guide efforts for the establishment of a network of protected areas and identify the monitoring of habitat availability and suitability as an important conservation priority. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

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.

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.

Ramirez I.,SPEA Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds | Paiva V.H.,University of Coimbra | Menezes D.,Parque Natural da Madeira | Silva I.,Parque Natural da Madeira | And 3 more authors.
Marine Ecology Progress Series | Year: 2013

The conservation of threatened seabirds that are highly pelagic, such as the gadfly petrels Pterodroma spp., depends on understanding the main oceanographic determinants of their movements in order to apply the necessary management regulations and to identify and protect their key marine habitats. The present work presents for the first time information on the distribution and habitat preferences of 17 Bugio petrels Pterodroma deserta from the island of Bugio, Madeira archipelago, North Atlantic Ocean. All of the birds remained in North Atlantic waters during the pre-laying exodus, incubation and chick-rearing periods, showing a clear preference for deep, productive (high chlorophyll a levels) waters north of the Azores archipelago. There was high individual variability in migration strategies. Five wintering areas were identified: two off the Brazilian coast, one around the Cape Verde archipelago, one off the southeast coast of the United States, and one in pelagic waters in the central South Atlantic. These tended to be areas of high productivity but not of a particular sea surface temperature regime. Based on saltwater immersion data, birds were more active during the breeding season and spent more time resting on the water in wintering areas. There was also a positive correlation between the time spent on the water and the progression of full to new moon, suggesting that the birds may use moonlight to search for prey. Given its highly dispersed distribution at sea throughout the year, effective conservation of this threatened species may require management at large spatial scales. Copyright © 2013 Inter-Research.

Olivera P.,Parque Natural da Madeira | Menezes D.,Parque Natural da Madeira | Trout R.,Japan Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute | Buckle A.,University of Reading | And 2 more authors.
Integrative Zoology | Year: 2010

The Portuguese island of Selvagem Grande (Great Salvage) in Macaronesia is an important seabird breeding station in the eastern Atlantic. Significant populations of Cory's shearwater Calonectris diomedea (Scopoli, 1769), Bulwer's petrel Bulweria bulweria (Jardine & Selby, 1828) and little shearwater Puffinus assimilis baroli (Bonaparte, 1857) are present, and white-faced storm-petrel Pelagodroma marina (Latham, 1790) and Madeiran storm-petrel Oceanodroma castro (Harcourt, 1851) populations are of global significance. Selvagem Grande also provides diverse habitats for an extensive flora, including 11 endemic species. The 270-ha island was also inhabited by two alien invasive mammals: the European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus (Linnaeus, 1758) and the house mouse Mus musculus (Linnaeus, 1758). Both are known to have had adverse impacts on breeding seabirds and island vegetation. In 2002, the Natural Park of Madeira conducted a program using brodifacoum bait formulations aimed at rabbit and mouse eradication. Approximately 17 000 individual baiting points were established on a 12.5 × 12.5 m grid. Baits were also applied by hand "seeding" on steep slopes and cliffs where bait stations could not be placed. Rabbits were removed after a month. However, mice persisted for considerably longer and strategic bait applications against them continued for a further six months. Subsequent assessments by trapping, bait takes and systematic observation of signs over three years, has confirmed the removal of both alien invasive species. This paper presents information on these operations, on measures adopted to mitigate adverse impacts of the eradication program on important vertebrate non-target species, including Berthelot's pipit Anthus berthelotii Bolle, 1862 and a species of gecko Tarentola bischoffi Joger, 1984 and on the initial response of the island's ecosystem to the eradication of rabbits and mice. © 2010 ISZS, Blackwell Publishing and IOZ/CAS.

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