[MARMAM] New publication on modelling habitat suitability of cetaceans in the Southern Ocean

Annette Bombosch annette.bombosch at awi.de
Thu Jul 10 02:37:24 PDT 2014

Dear colleagues,

we are pleased to announce the publication of the following paper:

Predictive habitat modelling of humpback (/Megaptera novaeangliae/) and 
Antarctic minke (/Balaenoptera bonaerensis/) whales in the Southern 
Ocean as a planning tool for seismic surveys (2014). Annette Bombosch, 
Daniel P. Zitterbart, Ilse Van Opzeeland, Stephan Frickenhaus, Elke 
Burkhardt, Mary S. Wisz, Olaf Boebel. Deep-Sea Research I 91 p.101--114. 
DOI: 10.1016/j.dsr.2014.05.017


Seismic surveys are frequently a matter of concern regarding their 
potentially negative impacts on marine mammals. In the Southern Ocean, 
which provides a critical habitat for several endangered cetacean 
species, seismic research activities are undertaken at a circumpolar 
scale. In order to minimize impacts of these surveys, pre-cruise 
planning requires detailed, spatio-temporally resolved knowledge on the 
likelihood of encountering these species in the survey area. In this 
publication we present predictive habitat modelling as a potential tool 
to support decisions for survey planning. We associated opportunistic 
sightings (2005--2011) of humpback (/Megaptera novaeangliae/, N=93) and 
Antarctic minke whales (/Balaenoptera bonaerensis/, N=139) with a range 
of static and dynamic environmental variables. A maximum entropy 
algorithm (Maxent) was used to develop habitat models and to calculate 
daily basinwide/circumpolar prediction maps to evaluate how 
species-specific habitat conditions evolved throughout the spring and 
summer months. For both species, prediction maps revealed considerable 
changes in habitat suitability throughout the season. Suitable humpback 
whale habitat occurred predominantly in ice-free areas, expanding 
southwards with the retreating sea ice edge, whereas suitable Antarctic 
minke whale habitat was consistently predicted within sea ice covered 
areas. Daily, large-scale prediction maps provide a valuable tool to 
design layout and timing of seismic surveys as they allow the 
identification and consideration of potential spatio-temporal hotspots 
to minimize potential impacts of seismic surveys on Antarctic cetacean 

The article is published open-access and can be downloaded via the 
following link:


For comments or questions please contact

annette.bombosch at gmail.com <mailto:annette.bombosch at gmail.com> or

Olaf.Boebel at awi.de <mailto:Olaf.Boebel at awi.de>

Best Regards

Annette Bombosch

Predictive habitat modelling of humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae) and
Antarctic minke (Balaenoptera bonaerensis) whales in the Southern Ocean as a
planning tool for seismic surveys

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