[MARMAM] New publication on the spatiotemporal distribution of harbour porpoises off Maryland, USA

Jessica Wingfield jwingfie at cbl.umces.edu
Mon May 22 06:27:23 PDT 2017

Hello MARMAM community,

My co-authors and I are pleased to announce our recent publication in PLOS

Wingfield JE, O’Brien M, Lyubchich V, Roberts JJ, Halpin PN, Rice AN, et
al. (2017) Year-round spatiotemporal distribution of harbour porpoises
within and around the Maryland wind energy area. PLoS ONE 12(5): e0176653.

Offshore windfarms provide renewable energy, but activities during the
construction phase can affect marine mammals. To understand how the
construction of an offshore windfarm in the Maryland Wind Energy Area (WEA)
off Maryland, USA, might impact harbour porpoises *(Phocoena phocoena*), it
is essential to determine their poorly understood year-round distribution.
Although habitat-based models can help predict the occurrence of species in
areas with limited or no sampling, they require validation to determine the
accuracy of the predictions. Incorporating more than 18 months of harbour
porpoise detection data from passive acoustic monitoring, generalized
auto-regressive moving average and generalized additive models were used to
investigate harbour porpoise occurrence within and around the Maryland WEA
in relation to temporal and environmental variables. Acoustic detection
metrics were compared to habitat-based density estimates derived from
aerial and boat-based sightings to validate the model predictions. Harbour
porpoises occurred significantly more frequently during January to May, and
foraged significantly more often in the evenings to early mornings at sites
within and outside the Maryland WEA. Harbour porpoise occurrence peaked at
sea surface temperatures of 5°C and chlorophyll *a* concentrations of 4.5
to 7.4 mg m-3. The acoustic detections were significantly correlated with
the predicted densities, except at the most inshore site. This study
provides insight into previously unknown fine-scale spatial and temporal
patterns in distribution of harbour porpoises offshore of Maryland. The
results can be used to help inform future monitoring and mitigate the
impacts of windfarm construction and other human activities.
The publication can be downloaded from:

Thank you,


Jessica Wingfield
Faculty Research Assistant
Chesapeake Biological Laboratory
146 Williams Street
Solomons, MD, 20688
Tel: (1) 410-326-7225
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