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ESR prepress abstract   -  DOI:

Spatio-temporal distribution of spinetail devil ray Mobula mobular in the eastern tropical Atlantic Ocean

Nerea Lezama-Ochoa*, Jon Lopez, Martin Hall, Pascal Bach, Francisco Abascal, Hilario Murua

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The distribution of the spinetail devil ray Mobula mobular in the eastern tropical Atlantic remains poorly known compared to the Pacific and Indian Oceans. We used fishery-dependent data and generalized additive models (GAMs) to understand the environmental characteristics associated with the distribution of M. mobular in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Results revealed that the distribution of M. mobular is significantly associated with seasonal upwelling systems in coastal and pelagic areas. Our model predicted presence of the species in areas where there is evidence of its occurrence, such as the Angolan upwelling system and the coast of Ghana. In addition, our model predicted new hotspot areas, including areas around the Mauritanian upwelling system, the Guinea coast, offshore Ghana, south coast of Angola and Brazil, where sample size was limited. Those areas, as well as the environmental preferences depicted by the model, provide valuable information to understand the habitat and ecology of the spinetail devil ray. Future research lines derived from this study, as well as limitations, are discussed. Furthermore, in light of our results we discuss the improvements that are needed to contribute to the conservation and correct management of this vulnerable species.