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Title: Spatio-temporal variation in harbour porpoise distribution and activity
Author: Williamson, Laura
ISNI:       0000 0004 7432 039X
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2018
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Harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) are the most abundant cetacean in UK waters, and are likely to be affected by a variety of marine industries and activities. This research uses data collected by acoustic recorders (C-PODs) and aerial video surveys to investigate patterns in porpoise detection. The findings can be split into five key themes, and are used to support the development of spatial management and survey recommendations. 1. Porpoise detection changes based on time of day in different habitats, indicating possible differences in diel habitat use and highlighting potential issues with visual or video data collection methods for assessing distribution. 2. Porpoise exhibit seasonal shifts in detection, yet year-round data are often lacking, therefore seasonal changes in distribution are often unknown. 3. The highest proportions of buzzes (associated with foraging) are not detected in areas with the highest relative density of porpoise. I propose that porpoise use different foraging strategies in different habitats which are not equally detectable by acoustic recorders. 4. Porpoise distribution may be influenced by the distribution of perceived risk from predator / competitor species (dolphins). Temporal partitioning of sites may arise either from porpoise actively avoiding times when bottlenose dolphins are expected to be present, or from porpoise and bottlenose preferences for different environmental conditions. 5. The choice of spatial modelling method can influence the fine-scale predictions of areas with the highest density. Improving our understanding of top and mesopredator ecology is informative for management strategies. Each of the points raised above should be considered when determining management strategies to minimise the impact from fisheries, offshore developments and other industrial activities on harbour porpoise.
Supervisor: Thompson, Paul Michael ; Scott, Beth Emily ; Brookes, Kate Louise Sponsor: Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland ; Marine Scotland Science ; University of Aberdeen
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Harbor porpoise ; Marine habitats ; Spatial analysis (Statistics)