[MARMAM] New paper on bottlenose dolphin in the Mediterranean Sea

Jessica Alessi alessijessica at gmail.com
Mon Jun 30 02:37:41 PDT 2014

Dear MARMAM subscribers

​We are pleased to announce that​

​the ​
following paper has been published:

​Jessica Alessi, Cristina Fiori (2014).​ From science to policy—a
geostatistical approach to identifying potential areas for cetacean
conservation: a case study of bottlenose dolphins in the Pelagos sanctuary
(Mediterranean Sea). *Journal of coastal conservation. *DOI

Available at:

​Cetaceans are top-level predators that serve as sentinels of the health
and status of lower trophic levels in the marine ecosystem. For this reason
they attract significant attention in marine conservation planning and
often have been used to promote designation of reserve areas in many
countries (e.g., Ligurian Sea, Moray Firth, Hawaiian Islands, The Gully,
Wadden Sea, Banks Peninsula, and Golfo San José). Many policies are
designed to protect cetaceans. For example, the Habitat Directive requires
member states to select, designate, and protect sites that support certain
natural habitats or species, such as the bottlenose dolphin, as Special
Areas of Conservation (SACs) that aim to create a network of protected
areas across the European Union known as Natura 2000. The boundaries of
protected areas for cetacean species must be defined for management
purposes. In recent years, many techniques have been developed to define
the distribution of cetaceans in relation to habitat preferences. Although
these models can provide an understanding of the ecological processes that
determine species distribution, their application requires prior knowledge
of the variables that should be included in the model, the interactions
among these variables, and their effects on species distribution. Thus, the
lack of available data in understudied areas precludes the application of
these types of models. As an alternative, we describe a geostatistical
approach to identifying areas that potentially should be designated as
marine protected areas for cetaceans. We illustrate the application of the
kriging algorithm to the bottlenose dolphin population that resides in the
northwestern Mediterranean Sea. The data derived from a 7-year survey were
used. The encounter rate is the only variable required for this method,
making it very easy to apply. The resulting georeferenced and high
resolution map includes areas most visited by bottlenose dolphins, which
are called core areas. Core areas are helpful for establishing the
boundaries of marine reserves for the protection of the species. The
approach described herein is accurate, precise, unbiased, replicable to all
highly mobile species and easy to understand by both researchers and policy

Best regards,

Jessica Alessi.

Jessica Alessi, PhD
Cetacean Research Unit
Genoa University (Italy)
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