Factors associated with the differential distribution of cetaceans linked with deep habitats in the Western Mediterranean Sea
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Deep-habitat cetaceans are generally difficult to study, leading to a limited knowledge of their population. This paper assesses the differential distribution patterns of three deep-habitat cetaceans (Sperm whale—Physeter macrocephalus, Risso’s dolphin—Grampus griseus & Cuvier’s beaked whale—Ziphius cavirostris). We used data of 842 opportunistic sightings of cetaceans in the western Mediterranean sea. We inferred environmental and spatio-temporal factors that affect their distribution. Binary logistic regression models were generated to compare the presence of deep-habitat cetaceans with the presence of other cetacean species in the dataset. Then, the favourability function was applied, allowing for comparison between all the models. Sperm whale and Risso’s dolphin presence was differentially favoured by the distance to towns in the eastern part of the western Mediterranean sea. The differential distribution of sperm whale was also influenced by the stability of SST, and that of the Risso’s dolphin by lower mean salinity and higher mean Chlorophyll A concentration. When modelling the three deep-habitat cetaceans (including Cuvier’s beaked whale), the variable distance to towns had a negative influence on the presence of any of them more than it did to other cetaceans, being more favourable far from towns, so this issue should be further investigated.
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