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Distribution and abundance estimates of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) around Lampedusa Island (Sicily Channel, Italy): implications for their management

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 August 2013

Marina Pulcini*
Affiliation:
ISPRA—Italian National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, via Vitaliano Brancati 60, 00144 Rome, Italy CTS—Nature Conservation Department, Via A. Vesalio 6, 00161 Rome, Italy
Daniela Silvia Pace
Affiliation:
Oceanomare-Delphis Onlus, Via G. Marinuzzi, 74, 00124 Rome, Italy
Gabriella La Manna
Affiliation:
CTS—Nature Conservation Department, Via A. Vesalio 6, 00161 Rome, Italy University of Parma, Biology Department, Viale G.P. Usberti, 43124 Parma, Italy
Francesca Triossi
Affiliation:
CTS—Nature Conservation Department, Via A. Vesalio 6, 00161 Rome, Italy Oceanomare-Delphis Onlus, Via G. Marinuzzi, 74, 00124 Rome, Italy
Caterina Maria Fortuna
Affiliation:
ISPRA—Italian National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, via Vitaliano Brancati 60, 00144 Rome, Italy
*
Correspondence should be addressed to: M. Pulcini, ISPRA—Italian National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, via Vitaliano Brancati 60, 00144 Rome, Italy email: marina.pulcini@isprambiente.it

Abstract

This paper represents the first quantitative assessment of the distribution and abundance of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) inhabiting the waters around Lampedusa Island, Italy. Eleven years of photo-identification data, collected from 1996 to 2006 by three different research groups, were brought together, reviewed and analysed to fulfil the following objectives: (i) to obtain baseline information on the abundance and residency of the local bottlenose dolphin putative population; (ii) to review the current Marine Protected Area (MPA) boundaries, especially those referred to waters around Lampedusa Island, with a view to establish a new Special Area of Conservation (SAC); and (iii) to explore the potential and limits of analysing heterogeneous datasets to improve future data collection methods. The most resident dolphins were regularly observed in six specific areas around Lampedusa Island. From a total of 148 photo-identified bottlenose dolphins, 102 were classified as well-marked. The capture histories and the distribution of sightings clearly show a number of dolphins regularly use the study area. Best estimates for the first period within the ‘core study area’ were obtained for 1998 data. The 2005 estimate was significantly larger than the 1998 estimates (z = 2.160; P < 0.05) compared to that of 1998. Implications of our results for the current MPA, for transboundary conservation initiative involving Italy, Malta and Tunisia and for directing future research within and outside the MPA are fully discussed.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 2013 

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Distribution and abundance estimates of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) around Lampedusa Island (Sicily Channel, Italy): implications for their management
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