Project ONR-environmental change

Project“Understanding the patterns and causes of variability in distribution, habitat use, abundance, survival and reproductive rates of three species of cetacean in the Alborán Sea, western Mediterranean”. Funded by Office for Naval Research, US.


The aims of this project are:

(1) Quantify relationships between measures of cetacean population ecology, dynamics and status (distribution, habitat use, abundance, survival and reproductive rates) and variation in the marine environment (physical and biological oceanography, prey distribution and relative abundance) for the three focal species (long-finned pilot whales and common and bottlenose dolphins)over the last 18 years in the Alborán Sea;


(2) Test the hypothesis that environmental changes have had a greater effect on cetacean species that feed at lower trophic levels;


(3) Explore the relative contribution of environmental variation and anthropogenic activities on cetacean population changes;


(4) Quantify the effect of moving the Cabo de Gata TSS (the source of major noise pollution) on the distribution and abundance of the three focal species.


(5) Predict responses of the three focal species to future environmental change under a range of scenarios;


(6) Assess how well cetaceans can serve as indicators of environmental change in the marine environment and of “ocean health” generally.


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