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Carlos García-Castro , Raúl Lara-Mendoza , Alberto Delgado-Estrella, Enrique Núñez-Lara , Abigail Uribe-Martínez, Eduardo Cuevas
Integral ecosystem restoration actions must consider restoring fauna populations and their associated critical habitats. A unified ecosystem restoration demands the development of complementary and integral approaches to restore all seascapes’ elements, instead of working from narrow taxonomic perspectives. Marine vertebrate populations are elements of high ecological and economical relevance for their ecosystems, such as in the Gulf of Mexico where multiple nations share marine resources. International treaties and national laws protect several of these species and foster the identification of their critical habitats for restoring their populations. Habitat suitability analysis and niche modelling is used to identify those critical habitats for management and restoring purposes. We assessed the habitat suitability of the Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus maculatus), Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), and shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) in the Gulf of Mexico, to identify overlapping areas of their high-suitability habitats to be proposed for special management and protection to restore their populations. We used a Hutchinsonian approach for niche modelling, based on their occurrence records. Their distribution was associated to particular ocean conditions, and all models were statically significant (>0.7 AUC). We delimited highly suitable zones for them and defined their potential distribution polygons to propose strategic areas for management and restoration (wildlife refuge and no-take zones), according to Mexican legislation. The identification of the critical habitats for these species contributes with basic information for marine spatial management implementation and promotes ecosystem restoration strategies for species of high ecological and economical interest.
Conference Presentation, SER2021
Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program