Environmental drivers of large-scale movements of baleen whales in the mid-North Atlantic Ocean
Tobeña Morcillo, Marta
Silva, Monica A.
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Keywordbaleen whales; movements; North Atlantic; Prey; SEAPODYM; species distribution models; tracking
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 distributions. 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 Author(s), 2020. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Perez-Jorge, S., Tobena, M., Prieto, R., Vandeperre, F., Calmettes, B., Lehodey, P., & Silva, M. A. Environmental drivers of large-scale movements of baleen whales in the mid-North Atlantic Ocean. Diversity and Distributions, 00, (2020): 1-16, doi:10.1111/ddi.13038.
Suggested CitationPerez-Jorge, S., Tobena, M., Prieto, R., Vandeperre, F., Calmettes, B., Lehodey, P., & Silva, M. A. (2020). Environmental drivers of large-scale movements of baleen whales in the mid-North Atlantic Ocean. Diversity and Distributions, 00, 1-16.
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