[MARMAM] New publication on Harbour porpoise mortality in the North Sea

Mariel ten Doeschate Marielten.Doeschate at sac.co.uk
Tue Aug 18 02:49:13 PDT 2020

Dear all,

On behalf of all co-authors, I am very pleased to announce that our manuscript on harbour porpoise strandings along the North Sea coastline is available from the journal of Biological Conservation:

Spatiotemporal mortality and demographic trends in a small cetacean: Strandings to inform conservation management
Lonneke L. IJsseldijk, Mariel T.I. ten Doeschate,
Andrew Brownlow, Nicholas J. Davison, Rob Deaville, Anders Galatius, Anita Gilles, Jan Haelters, Paul D. Jepson, Guido O. Keijl, Carl Chr. Kinze, Morten Tange Olsen, Ursula Siebert, Charlotte Bie Thøstesen, Jan van den Broek, Andrea Gröne, Hans Heesterbeek

This study collated and analysed harbour porpoise strandings data from five different countries bordering the North Sea, covering a period of 28 years.

·         International data synthesis to understand wildlife mortality and demographic trends

·         We demonstrate the value of long-term surveillance exemplified by stranding records.

·         Our analyses indicate potential vulnerable population groups in time and space.

·         Analytical methods allow establishment of robust baseline of spatiotemporal variation.

·         Results guide conservation measures aiming to reduce human-wildlife conflicts at sea.

The article is openly accessible and freely available via this link: https://authors.elsevier.com/sd/article/S0006320720307916

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Mariel ten Doeschate & Lonneke IJsseldijk

Mariel T.I. ten Doeschate MSc
Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme, Northern Faculty, SRUC
An Lòchran, 10 Inverness Campus, Inverness, IV2 5NA
+44 (0) 7990513589 / marielten.doeschate at sruc.ac.uk

With global increases in anthropogenic pressures on wildlife populations comes a responsibility to manage them effectively. The assessment of marine ecosystem health is challenging and often relies on monitoring indicator species, such as cetaceans. Most cetaceans are however highly mobile and spend the majority of their time hidden from direct view, resulting in uncertainty on even the most basic population metrics. Here, we discuss the value of long-term and internationally combined stranding records as a valuable source of information on the
demographic and mortality trends of the harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) in the North Sea. We analysed stranding records (n = 16,181) from 1990 to 2017 and demonstrate a strong heterogeneous seasonal pattern of strandings throughout the North Sea, indicative of season-specific distribution or habitat use, and season-specific mortality. The annual incidence of strandings has increased since 1990, with a notable steeper rise particularly in the southern North Sea since 2005. A high density of neonatal strandings occurred specifically in the eastern North Sea, indicative of areas important for calving, and large numbers of juvenile males stranded in the southern parts, indicative of a population sink or reflecting higher male dispersion. These findings highlight the power of stranding records to detect potentially vulnerable population groups in time and space. This knowledge is vital for managers and can guide, for example, conservation measures such as the establishment of time-area-specific limits to potentially harmful human activities, aiming to reduce the number and intensity of human-wildlife conflicts.

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