[MARMAM] New publication: common dolphin and minke whale habitat preferences over the Malin Shelf.

Morgane Pommier pommier.morgane50 at gmail.com
Fri Nov 17 02:45:13 PST 2023


Dear MARMAM community,

On behalf of my co-authors, I am pleased to share with you our new
publication "Exploring environmental and biological drivers of cetacean
occurrence in the cross-border region of the Malin Shelf using data from a
European fishery survey" available in open-access at:

Frontiers | Exploring environmental and biological drivers of cetacean
occurrence in the cross-border region of the Malin Shelf using data from a
European fishery survey (frontiersin.org)
<https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2023.1224267/full?&utm_source=Email_to_authors_&utm_medium=Email&utm_content=T1_11.5e1_author&utm_campaign=Email_publication&field=&journalName=Frontiers_in_Marine_Science&id=1224267>

*Pommier, M., O'Donnell, C., Barile, C., McGill, R., Berrow, S., & O'Brien,
J. Exploring environmental and biological drivers of cetacean occurrence in
the cross-border region of the Malin Shelf using data from a European
fishery survey. Frontiers in Marine Science, 10, 1224267.*

Abstract:

Irish and Scottish waters are important habitats for cetaceans in Europe.
Yet, little data is available for the region of the Malin Shelf, north of
Ireland. Despite a rich species diversity, relative cetacean abundance
appears low compared to hotspots documented west of Scotland and Ireland.
Whether this perceived low prevalence accurately portrays an ecological
discontinuity or arises from a lack of published results and low survey
effort in that transborder area remains unclear. Here, we used sighting
records from a multi-disciplinary fisheries survey, the Western European
Shelf Pelagic Acoustic Survey (WESPAS), to explore cetacean habitat
preferences over the Malin and Hebridean shelves. Northern minke whale and
common dolphin occurrence was modelled within a Bayesian Additive
Regression Trees (BART) framework, against selected environmental and
biological variables. No correlation was observed between cetacean presence
and in-situ prey biomass. Minke whale distribution was better explained by
oceanography, notably proxies for frontal activity, and primary
productivity. Common dolphins similarly showed preferences for shelf waters
within 5-25km of fronts, but also affinities for fine substrates.
Favourable habitats identified by the models were consistent with
literature around the Hebrides and shed light on potentially important
areas along the Islay front and north of Donegal, so far unreported due to
data deficiency. Results will contribute towards informing future
monitoring, strategic management and conservation efforts in this
cross-border region.

Kind regards,

Morgane Pommier
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