[MARMAM] New publication: Humpback whale distribution - telemetry & line transects

Guilherme Augusto Bortolotto bortolotto.ga at gmail.com
Sun Oct 8 13:26:28 PDT 2023

Dear MARMAM community,

I’m pleased to share our recent publication with you:

Bortolotto GA, Zerbini AN, Thomas L, Andriolo A, Hammond PS (2023)
Distribution and habitat use modelling from satellite tracking data of
humpback whales in Brazil agrees with shipboard survey data modelling.
Marine Ecology Progress Series, 720:161-174.

ABSTRACT: Statistical modelling of animal distributions has been widely
applied to explain how mobile species use their habitats. The distribution
of and habitat use by humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae off the
eastern coast of Brazil have previously been investigated by modelling
visual survey data. Here, we modelled distribution in their breeding range
using individual tracking data to compare ecological inferences with those
from previous models from line transect data. A generalised estimating
equation framework was used to model the tracking data and pseudo-absences
as functions of spatial covariates. Covariates considered were latitude and
longitude, sea surface temperature (SST), current and wind speeds near the
surface, distances to shelf-break and the coast, sea bottom depth and
slope, and a factor variable representing ‘shelter’. Two modelling
exercises were developed: a habitat use model (HUM) and a distribution
model (DIM). Covariates retained in the selected HUM were SST, distance to
coast and shelf-break, current and wind speeds and shelter. Covariates
retained in the selected DIM were latitude/longitude, current speed and
distances to shelf-break and coast. The modelled relationships between
whale occurrence and environmental covariates using tracking data were
similar to those using line transect data. Distribution maps were also
similar, supporting higher densities around the Abrolhos Archipelago and to
its south. We showed that habitat use and distribution of this population
in the area could be similarly inferred by modelling either line transect
or tracking data. Using these 2 approaches in conjunction can strengthen
the understanding of important ecological aspects of animal populations.

This can be found at https://doi.org/10.3354/meps14404 or you can email me
and I'll gladly send you a copy.

All the best,

Gui Bortolotto
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