ESR 27:1-20 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00632

Habitat-based models of cetacean density and distribution in the central North Pacific

Karin A. Forney1,*, Elizabeth A. Becker1,2, Dave G. Foley, Jay Barlow3, Erin M. Oleson4

1Marine Mammal and Turtle Division, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 110 Shaffer Rd, Santa Cruz, California 95060, USA
2ManTech International Corporation, 420 Stevens Ave, Solana Beach, California 92075, USA
3Marine Mammal and Turtle Division, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 8901 La Jolla Shores Dr, La Jolla, California 92037, USA
4Protected Resources Division, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 1601 Kapiolani Blvd, Honolulu, Hawaii 96814, USA
*Corresponding author:
Deceased

ABSTRACT: The central North Pacific Ocean includes diverse temperate and tropical pelagic habitats. Studies of the abundance and distribution of cetaceans within these dynamic marine ecosystems have generally been patchy or conducted at coarse spatial and temporal scales, limiting their utility for pelagic conservation planning. Habitat-based density models provide a tool for identifying pelagic areas of importance to cetaceans, because model predictions are spatially explicit. In this study, we present habitat-based models of cetacean density that were developed and validated for the central North Pacific. Spatial predictions of cetacean densities and measures of uncertainty were derived based on data collected during 15 large-scale shipboard cetacean and ecosystem assessment surveys conducted from 1997 to 2012. We developed generalized additive models using static and remotely sensed dynamic habitat variables, including distance to land, sea-surface temperature (SST), standard deviation of SST, surface chlorophyll concentration, sea-surface height (SSH), and SSH root-mean-square variation. The resulting models, developed using new grid-based prediction methods, provide finer scale information on the distribution and density of cetaceans than previously available. Habitat-based abundance estimates around Hawaii are similar to those derived from standard line-transect analyses of the same data and provide enhanced spatial resolution to inform management and conservation of pelagic cetacean species.


KEY WORDS: Central North Pacific · Cetacean abundance · Generalized additive model · Habitat-based density model · Pelagic conservation · Remote sensing


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Cite this article as: Forney KA, Becker EA, Foley DG, Barlow J, Oleson EM (2015) Habitat-based models of cetacean density and distribution in the central North Pacific. Endang Species Res 27:1-20. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00632

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