[MARMAM] New publication: Seasonal distribution of an opportunistic apex predator (Tursiops truncatus) in marine coastal habitats of the Western Mediterranean Sea

Daniela Silvia Pace danielasilvia.pace at uniroma1.it
Thu Sep 15 05:42:27 PDT 2022

Dear MARMAM community,
on behalf of my coauthors, I'm pleased to announce the recent publication
of our paper in Frontiers in Marine Science:

Pace DS, Panunzi G, Arcangeli A, Moro S, Jona-Lasinio G and Martino S
(2022). Seasonal distribution of an opportunistic apex predator (Tursiops
truncatus) in marine coastal habitats of the Western Mediterranean Sea.
Front. Mar. Sci. 9:939692.

Assessing the distribution of marine apex–predators is pivotal to
understanding community interactions and defining management goals.
However, several challenges arise in both estimates and predictions
considering the distinctive and mutable biological/ecological requirements
of these species and the influence of human activities. Thus, efforts to
study apex–predators’ spatial distribution patterns must deal with inherent
uncertainty. Relying on different data sources (research programs and
social media reports), physiographic and environmental covariates (depth,
slope, surface temperature and chlorophyll–a), and specific source–related
detection functions, this study selected a Spatial Log–Gaussian Cox Process
to model the distribution patterns of an opportunistic apex–predator, the
common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), over 14 years (2008−2021)
in the Mediterranean Sea (Italy) using a total of 955 encounters. Both
depth and slope showed a significant (95% significance) reduction effect in
the encounters when deeper and steeper, respectively. Temperature
(parabolic) shows a positive effect (90% significance), while chlorophyll–a
values did not seem to have a significant effect on encounter intensities
within each season. The estimated posterior mean and the coefficient of
variation surfaces for the intensity by season showed higher intensity in
summer near the Tiber River estuary than other regions. Almost homogeneous
predictions were observed in winter, with marginal greater intensities
where lower temperatures and higher chlorophyll–a concentration were
observed. The relatively low variance was predicted in the more coastal
parts of the study area within each season, while higher uncertainty was
instead revealed in the southernmost offshore area. This study highlighted
the persistent presence of the common bottlenose dolphin in the
investigated area both winter and summer, with a coherent distribution
within each season, and rare transient occurrences in deeper waters (where
uncertainty increases). Thanks to its versatile characteristics, the
species seems to well adapt to different seasonal conditions and maintain
its distributional range.

With very best wishes,

Daniela Silvia Pace, PhD
Department of Environmental Biology
Marine Ecology Lab
Sapienza University of Rome
Viale dell’Università 32
00185 Rome, Italy
mail: danielasilvia.pace at uniroma1.it
mobile: +39 346 1039652
office: +39 06 4991 4763
skype: lagenorinco
Orcid ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5121-7080

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