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Adnet S.,Montpellier University | Cappetta H.,Montpellier University | Guinot G.,Montpellier University | Di Sciara G.N.,Tethys Research Institute
Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society

The exact affinities of the fossil teeth attributed to the devilrays (mobulids) are critical for resolving the debated origin of these giant pelagic rays amongst Myliobatiformes and the timing of their evolution toward planktivory. We performed the rst detailed comparative description of teeth belonging to most of the living and fossil mobulids. Based on a survey of living devilrays, three dental morphologies are newly identied as cobblestone tooth plates, comb-like teeth, and peg-like teeth. In addition, all extinct mobulid species are reviewed with comments on their dentition, fossil record, and geographical distribution. As a result, three fossil mobulid taxa are newly described from the Late Eocene of south-west Morocco (Argoubia barbei gen. et sp. nov., Oromobula dakhlaensis gen. et sp. nov., and Eoplinthicus underwoodi sp. nov.). This has permitted the rst assessment of the phylogenetic positions of extinct and extant species of mobulids, using cladistic analyses and a combined data set of nondental anatomical characters from the literature and the dental characters dened here. Our new results support the monophyly of mobulids including all living and most extinct species and indicate that mobulids are closely related to rhinopterids. They also indicate that there was a recent split within Mobulidae into the three tooth morphology groups that we describe in this paper. This work provides clues to the evolutionary history of this clade since the Early Eocene, including the gradual lack in tooth interlocking toward the lter-feeding strategy, whereas the preservation of cusped teeth without feeding function in modern lter-feeder mobulids is interpreted as a tool for precopulatory purposes. © 2012. Source

Guidetti P.,University of Nice Sophia Antipolis | Notarbartolo-Di-Sciara G.,Tethys Research Institute | Agardy T.,Sound Seas
Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have gained increasing popularity worldwide as tools for biodiversity conservation and management of human uses. This rise in popularity has been accompanied by an increasing body of scientific papers and books on MPA design and management, the vast majority of which are almost completely focused on coastal or insular MPAs. A small number of MPAs have also been established in the pelagic domain, however, these pelagic sites have been considered in isolation from coastal/insular MPAs, even when the sites are adjacent or nearby. Pelagic and coastal ecosystems are not at all isolated from each other, but interconnected both physically via the flow of water, and biologically, via the movement of organisms. In order to maximize the effectiveness of MPAs, it is suggested that spatial management planning encompass large areas that span both coastal and pelagic domains. This requires integrated, large-scale spatial management, which may extend across borders and thus require international cooperation. © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Source

Frantzis A.,Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute | Airoldi S.,Tethys Research Institute | Notarbartolo-di-Sciara G.,Tethys Research Institute | Johnson C.,Earthocean | Mazzariol S.,University of Padua
Deep-Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers

The sperm whale is one of the very few deep diving mammal species in the Mediterranean Sea. Following a rare mass stranding of male sperm whales in the Adriatic Sea in December 2009, photo-identification methods were used in order to investigate previous sightings of the stranded whales in the region. Fluke photos of the stranded whales were compared with those of 153 and 128 free-ranging individuals photographed in the western and eastern Mediterranean basins, respectively. Three out of the seven stranded whales had been previously photo-identified and some of them more than once. To reach the stranding place, two of these re-identified whales performed long-range inter-basin movements of about 1600-2100. km (in a straight line) either through the Strait of Sicily or the Strait of Messina. In addition, comparisons among all whales photographed in the two Mediterranean basins revealed that one more individual first photographed in the western basin (1991) was re-identified 13 years later in the eastern basin (2004). These three cases provide the first conclusive evidence of inter-basin movement of sperm whales in the Mediterranean Sea. Inter-basin gene flow is important for the survival of the small and endangered Mediterranean sperm whale population. Mitigating the disturbance created by human activities in the straits area is crucial for its conservation. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Portman M.E.,Technion - Israel Institute of Technology | Notarbartolo-di-Sciara G.,Tethys Research Institute | Agardy T.,Sound Seas | Katsanevakis S.,European Commission - Joint Research Center Ispra | And 2 more authors.
Marine Policy

Although significant advancements on protecting marine biodiversity and ecosystems of the Mediterranean Sea have been made, much remains to be done to achieve the targets set by the Convention for Biological Diversity (and the Barcelona Convention) and ratified by the 21 Mediterranean governments. Particularly, these targets require the design and implementation of an ecologically representative network of marine protected areas that covers 10% of the Mediterranean surface by 2020. Despite the many efforts to gather spatial information about threats to the Mediterranean and conservation planning initiatives that identify sensitive areas for conservation, we are far from achieving this target. In this paper, we briefly review existing and proposed conservation initiatives at various scales throughout the Mediterranean to recognise those that have political endorsement and those that serve more as lobbying tools. We then propose a model process that can be applied to advance marine spatial planning within the eleven ecologically and biologically significant areas (EBSAs) through a multi-step process designed for moving conservation forward in this particularly complex region. The proposed process combines tenets of professional urban/regional planning and systematic conservation planning. As shown with two specific examples, despite some conventional wisdom, there is enough information on the Mediterranean Sea to move forward with ecosystem-based marine spatial management for conservation purposes using the EBSAs as a starting point - and the time is right to do so. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Agardy T.,Sound Seas | di Sciara G.N.,Tethys Research Institute | Christie P.,University of Washington
Marine Policy

A blind faith in the ability of MPAs to counteract loss of biodiversity is fraught with risk, especially when MPAs are poorly planned and when the consequences of establishing MPAs are not adequately thought out. MPA shortcomings are categorized as one of five main types: (1) MPAs that by virtue of their small size or poor design are ecologically insufficient; (2) inappropriately planned or managed MPAs; (3) MPAs that fail due to the degradation of the unprotected surrounding ecosystems; (4) MPAs that do more harm than good due to displacement and unintended consequences of management; and (5) MPAs that create a dangerous illusion of protection when in fact no protection is occurring. A strategic alternative, which fully utilizes the strengths of the MPA tool while avoiding the pitfalls, can overcome these shortcomings: integrating marine protected area planning in broader marine spatial planning and ocean zoning efforts. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. Source

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