[MARMAM] PhD Thesis: The Ecology of Cuvier’s beaked whale, Ziphius cavirostris (Cetacea: Ziphiidae), in the Bay of Biscay

jackie smith jackie52smith at yahoo.co.uk
Mon Feb 21 13:43:34 PST 2011

Dear MARMAMers,

A pdf of the following PhD Thesis has moved to:  

http://www.marine-life.org.uk/media/27214/smith_2010_cuviers beaked whale 

Smith, J.A. 2010. The Ecology of Cuvier’s beaked whale, Ziphius cavirostris 
(Cetacea:  Ziphiidae), in the Bay of Biscay. 

This dissertation introduces the habitat use and spatial-temporal distribution 
of Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris, Cuvier, 1823)in the Bay of 
Biscay, from surveys carried out by the Biscay Dolphin Research Programme 
between 1995 and 2007. I have analysed the spatio-temporal distribution of 
Cuvier’s beaked whale, using dedicated and opportunistic sightings and the 
interactions with fixed physical variables (depth, slope and aspect), non-fixed 
environmental variables (sea surface temperature) in the Bay of Biscay, 
northeast Atlantic. This study used a differing combination of environmental 
variables and modelling: GAM (General  Additive Model), and ENFA (Ecological 
Niche  Factor Analysis), and PCA (Principal  Component Analysis). Geographical 
Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing were used to achieve this. The 
habitat preferences of Cuvier’s beaked whale showed strong correlations with 
water depths >1000m and <4000m and steep slopes, associated with the Capbreton 
canyon, in the southeast Bay of Biscay and the continental shelf slopes in 
northern Biscay. Areas of high suitability for Cuvier’s beaked whale were 
predicted for the Bay of Biscay and predictions showed high habitat suitability 
areas over continental shelf slopes and submarine canyons. The variety of 
modelling techniques used to identify the habitat preferences and to predict 
areas of high suitability for Cuvier’s beaked whale in the Bay of Biscay all 
proved advantageous. On a global scale, techniques such as these could be 
applied to help research worldwide for future implementations of protected areas 
to conserve and maintain this species. The abundance and distribution of 
Cuvier’s beaked whales varied between years and seasons, with an increase in 
sightings over time and a seasonal distribution shifting north during spring and 
summer. Stranding records were also analyzed and compared with the sightings 
data, which identified regional patterns in seasonal distribution between 
France, the UK and Ireland. In addition to Cuvier’s beaked whale, this study 
investigated other deep-diving cetaceans (Northern bottlenose whale, Hyperoodon 
ampullatus, Sowerby’s  beaked whale, Mesoplodon bidens, Sperm whale, Physalus 
macrocephalus, Pilot whale, Globicephala melas) and non-deep diving cetaceans 
(Fin whale, Balaenoptera physalus, and Common  dolphin, Delphinus delphis) 
observed in the Bay of Biscay and the English Channel. The Bay of Biscay is the 
most northerly range of the Cuvier’s beaked whale in the eastern north Atlantic 
and with year round observations, it could be suggested the population may be 
resident.This raises the question, could Cuvier’s beaked whale act as a 
predictor of increasing water temperatures because of climate change by shifting 
their distribution further north. 

Happy Reading

Dr Jackie Smith.
Email: jackie52smith at yahoo.co.uk

Marinelife is a charity registered: No 1110884

jackie xx


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