[MARMAM] New publication: Environmental drivers of large-scale movements of baleen whales in the mid-North Atlantic Ocean

Sergi Pérez Jorge sergiperezjorge at gmail.com
Mon Mar 23 04:45:36 PDT 2020

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce the following paper recently published in
Diversity and Distributions:

*Environmental drivers of large-scale movements of baleen whales in the
mid-North Atlantic Ocean. *

Sergi Pérez-Jorge, Marta Tobeña, Rui Prieto, Frederic Vandeperre, Beatriz
Calmettes, Patrick Lehodey and Mónica A. Silva


*Aim: *Understanding the environmental drivers of movement and habitat use
of highly migratory marine species is crucial to implement appropriate
management and conservation measures. However, this requires quantitative
information on their spatial and temporal presence, which is limited in the
high seas. Here, we aimed to gain insights of the essential habitats of
three baleen whale species around the mid-North Atlantic (NA) region,
linking their large-scale movements with information on oceanographic and
biological processes.

*Location: *Mid-NA Ocean.

*Methods: *We present the first study combining data from 31 satellite
tracks of baleen whales (15, 10 and 6 from fin, blue and sei whales,
respectively) from March to July (2008–2016) with data on remotely sensed
oceanography and mid- and lower trophic level biomass derived from the
spatial ecosystem and population dynamics model (SEAPODYM). A Bayesian
switching state-space model was applied to obtain regular tracks and
correct for location errors, and pseudo-absences were created through
simulated positions using a correlated random walk model. Based on the
tracks and pseudo-absences, we applied generalized additive mixed models
(GAMMs) to determine the probability of occurrence and predict monthly

*Results: *This study provides the most detailed research on the
spatio-temporal distribution of baleen whales in the mid-NA, showing how
dynamic biophysical processes determine their habitat preference. Movement
patterns were mainly influenced by the interaction of temperature and the
lower trophic level biomass; however, this relationship differed
substantially among species. Best-fit models suggest that movements of
whales migrating towards more productive areas in northern latitudes were
constrained by depth and eddy kinetic energy.

*Main conclusions: *These novel insights highlight the importance of
integrating telemetry data with spatially explicit prey models to
understand which factors shape the movement patterns of highly migratory
species across large geographical scales. In addition, our outcomes could
contribute to inform management of anthropogenic threats to baleen whales
in sparsely surveyed region.

The paper is open access and freely available for download at:

Or contact me at sergiperezjorge at gmail.com

All the best,

Sergi Pérez-Jorge


Sergi Pérez-Jorge, PhD

IMAR - Institute of Marine Research

Okeanos R&D Center

Rua Prof Dr Frederico Machado 4

9901-862 Horta, Azores, Portugal

Tel. +351 292200400

Skype: sergi_perez, Twitter: @sergiperezjorge

Azores Whale Lab: http://whales.scienceontheweb.net
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