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Marine ecosystem assessment for the Southern Ocean: birds and marine mammals in a changing climate

Marine ecosystem assessment for the Southern Ocean: birds and marine mammals in a changing climate
Marine ecosystem assessment for the Southern Ocean: birds and marine mammals in a changing climate

The massive number of seabirds (penguins and procellariiformes) and marine mammals (cetaceans and pinnipeds) – referred to here as top predators – is one of the most iconic components of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean. They play an important role as highly mobile consumers, structuring and connecting pelagic marine food webs and are widely studied relative to other taxa. Many birds and mammals establish dense breeding colonies or use haul-out sites, making them relatively easy to study. Cetaceans, however, spend their lives at sea and thus aspects of their life cycle are more complicated to monitor and study. Nevertheless, they all feed at sea and their reproductive success depends on the food availability in the marine environment, hence they are considered useful indicators of the state of the marine resources. In general, top predators have large body sizes that allow for instrumentation with miniature data-recording or transmitting devices to monitor their activities at sea. Development of scientific techniques to study reproduction and foraging of top predators has led to substantial scientific literature on their population trends, key biological parameters, migratory patterns, foraging and feeding ecology, and linkages with atmospheric or oceanographic dynamics, for a number of species and regions. We briefly summarize the vast literature on Southern Ocean top predators, focusing on the most recent syntheses. We also provide an overview on the key current and emerging pressures faced by these animals as a result of both natural and human causes. We recognize the overarching impact that environmental changes driven by climate change have on the ecology of these species. We also evaluate direct and indirect interactions between marine predators and other factors such as disease, pollution, land disturbance and the increasing pressure from global fisheries in the Southern Ocean. Where possible we consider the data availability for assessing the status and trends for each of these components, their capacity for resilience or recovery, effectiveness of management responses, risk likelihood of key impacts and future outlook.

Antarctic, climate change, conservation management, fisheries interactions, marine ecosystem assessment, marine predators
Bestley, Sophie
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Ropert-Coudert, Yan
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Bengtson Nash, Susan
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Brooks, Cassandra M.
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Cotté, Cédric
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Dewar, Meagan
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Friedlaender, Ari S.
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Jackson, Jennifer A.
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Labrousse, Sara
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Lowther, Andrew D.
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McMahon, Clive R.
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Phillips, Richard A.
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Pistorius, Pierre
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Puskic, Peter S.
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Reis, Ana Olivia de A.
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Reisinger, Ryan R.
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Santos, Mercedes
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Tarszisz, Esther
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Tixier, Paul
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Trathan, Philip N.
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Wege, Mia
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Wienecke, Barbara
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Bestley, Sophie
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Ropert-Coudert, Yan
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Bengtson Nash, Susan
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Brooks, Cassandra M.
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Cotté, Cédric
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Dewar, Meagan
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Friedlaender, Ari S.
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Jackson, Jennifer A.
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Labrousse, Sara
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Lowther, Andrew D.
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McMahon, Clive R.
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Phillips, Richard A.
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Pistorius, Pierre
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Puskic, Peter S.
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Reis, Ana Olivia de A.
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Reisinger, Ryan R.
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Santos, Mercedes
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Tarszisz, Esther
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Tixier, Paul
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Trathan, Philip N.
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Wege, Mia
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Wienecke, Barbara
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Bestley, Sophie, Ropert-Coudert, Yan, Bengtson Nash, Susan, Brooks, Cassandra M., Cotté, Cédric, Dewar, Meagan, Friedlaender, Ari S., Jackson, Jennifer A., Labrousse, Sara, Lowther, Andrew D., McMahon, Clive R., Phillips, Richard A., Pistorius, Pierre, Puskic, Peter S., Reis, Ana Olivia de A., Reisinger, Ryan R., Santos, Mercedes, Tarszisz, Esther, Tixier, Paul, Trathan, Philip N., Wege, Mia and Wienecke, Barbara (2020) Marine ecosystem assessment for the Southern Ocean: birds and marine mammals in a changing climate. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 8 (11), [566936]. (doi:10.3389/fevo.2020.566936).

Record type: Review

Abstract

The massive number of seabirds (penguins and procellariiformes) and marine mammals (cetaceans and pinnipeds) – referred to here as top predators – is one of the most iconic components of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean. They play an important role as highly mobile consumers, structuring and connecting pelagic marine food webs and are widely studied relative to other taxa. Many birds and mammals establish dense breeding colonies or use haul-out sites, making them relatively easy to study. Cetaceans, however, spend their lives at sea and thus aspects of their life cycle are more complicated to monitor and study. Nevertheless, they all feed at sea and their reproductive success depends on the food availability in the marine environment, hence they are considered useful indicators of the state of the marine resources. In general, top predators have large body sizes that allow for instrumentation with miniature data-recording or transmitting devices to monitor their activities at sea. Development of scientific techniques to study reproduction and foraging of top predators has led to substantial scientific literature on their population trends, key biological parameters, migratory patterns, foraging and feeding ecology, and linkages with atmospheric or oceanographic dynamics, for a number of species and regions. We briefly summarize the vast literature on Southern Ocean top predators, focusing on the most recent syntheses. We also provide an overview on the key current and emerging pressures faced by these animals as a result of both natural and human causes. We recognize the overarching impact that environmental changes driven by climate change have on the ecology of these species. We also evaluate direct and indirect interactions between marine predators and other factors such as disease, pollution, land disturbance and the increasing pressure from global fisheries in the Southern Ocean. Where possible we consider the data availability for assessing the status and trends for each of these components, their capacity for resilience or recovery, effectiveness of management responses, risk likelihood of key impacts and future outlook.

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fevo-08-566936 - Version of Record
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Accepted/In Press date: 17 September 2020
Published date: 4 November 2020
Keywords: Antarctic, climate change, conservation management, fisheries interactions, marine ecosystem assessment, marine predators

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 455501
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/455501
PURE UUID: 97ee9630-ea54-4d82-baf6-8d5db0aa7a3c
ORCID for Ryan R. Reisinger: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-8933-6875

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Date deposited: 23 Mar 2022 17:42
Last modified: 03 Sep 2022 02:10

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Contributors

Author: Sophie Bestley
Author: Yan Ropert-Coudert
Author: Susan Bengtson Nash
Author: Cassandra M. Brooks
Author: Cédric Cotté
Author: Meagan Dewar
Author: Ari S. Friedlaender
Author: Jennifer A. Jackson
Author: Sara Labrousse
Author: Andrew D. Lowther
Author: Clive R. McMahon
Author: Richard A. Phillips
Author: Pierre Pistorius
Author: Peter S. Puskic
Author: Ana Olivia de A. Reis
Author: Mercedes Santos
Author: Esther Tarszisz
Author: Paul Tixier
Author: Philip N. Trathan
Author: Mia Wege
Author: Barbara Wienecke

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