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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 616:197-210 (2019)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12937

Environment and anthropogenic activities influence cetacean habitat use in southeastern Brazil

Rodrigo H. Tardin1,2,3,*, Yongwan Chun4, Clinton N. Jenkins5, Israel S. Maciel2, Sheila M. Simão2, Maria Alice S. Alves3

1Graduate Program in Ecology and Evolution, Department of Ecology, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro 20550-013, Brazil
2Laboratory of Cetacean Bioacoustics and Ecology, Department of Environmental Studies, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro 23897-000, Brazil
3Department of Ecology, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro 20550-013, Brazil
4School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, TX 75080, USA
5IPÊ - Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas, Nazaré Paulista, São Paulo 12.960-000, Brazil
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Investigating the influence of coastal development on marine environments is a priority to maintain healthy seas. Cetaceans are top predators, keystone and umbrella species and thus are good candidate models to evaluate the extent of anthropogenic impacts on coastal habitats. We employed a generalized linear model with spatial eigenvector mapping (SEV-GLM) to understand the influence of environmental and anthropogenic activities on migrant (humpback whale Megaptera novaeangliae) and non-migrant (Bryde’s whale Balaenoptera brydei and common bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus) cetacean habitat use off Cabo Frio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We hypothesized that both environmental and anthropogenic activities influence their habitat use. Data were collected during 118 boat trips between December 2010 and June 2014. The best SEV-GLM predicted humpback whales would increase linearly with distance to coast, with minimum sea surface temperature (SST) around 19.4-19.8°C and maximum SST around 25.5-26°C, with low variations in chlorophyll a (chl a) concentrations. The model also predicted that humpback whales would occur up to 10 km from diving areas, increasing linearly with distance to fishing grounds. The best non-migrant cetacean SEV-GLM predicted that they would occur more frequently around depths from 30-60 m, increasing with low SST and high chl a concentration. For the anthropogenic component, the model predicted that non-migrant cetaceans would occur up to 10 km from fishing grounds. Our study modeled the influence of anthropogenic activities on cetaceans, and indicates specific priority areas for cetacean conservation, contributing at a local and national scale.


KEY WORDS: Species distribution modeling · Balaenopteridae · Delphinidae · Spatial eigenvectors · Modeling · Spatial prioritization · Upwelling


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Cite this article as: Tardin RH, Chun Y, Jenkins CN, Maciel IS, Simão SM, Alves MAS (2019) Environment and anthropogenic activities influence cetacean habitat use in southeastern Brazil. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 616:197-210. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12937

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