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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An ecosystem-based approach to study two dolphin populations around the island of Kalamos, Ionian Sea, Greece Piroddi, Chiara

Abstract

In the northeastern Ionian Sea, two populations of dolphins, the short-beaked common dolphin and the common bottlenose dolphin, have been studied since 1993 by the Tethys Research Institute, Italy. Results show a low density of bottlenose dolphins, and a rapid decline in common dolphin numbers and encounter rates. I constructed an ecosystem model using Ecopath with Ecosim for the northeastern Ionian Sea to explain the two different abundance trends of these species of dolphins, and the trophic interactions with their prey and with the fisheries. The Ecopath model was built for the year 1964, adding data on biomass, P/B, Q/B and diet for each functional group of the ecosystem, fisheries landings and discards. Ecosim was used to generate simulated trajectories to fit with the ‘observed’ trends (e.g., biomass, CPUE and catches) for the most important groups of the ecosystem. The results of the fitting underline a clear decline of common dolphins caused by reduced prey availability. In particular, sardine and anchovy stocks, the main prey of common dolphins, have decreased sharply since the late 1970s due to intensive fishing pressure in the area until the end of 1990s. On the other hand, the population of bottlenose dolphins has increased through time; a positive correlation was observed between this species of dolphin and the development of the fish farm industry in the study area. Ecosim was used to simulate three fishing policy scenarios within the study area. Three different fishing closures were investigated: the closure of purse seiners; the closure of the industrial fisheries (purse seiners, trawlers and beach seiners); and the closure of the entire fishing fleets. According to Ecosim predictions, sardines and anchovies would benefit from all three management strategies. Common dolphins showed a significant increase only when the entire study area was closed to fishing. The creation of MPAs was explored using Ecospace. In particular, two different scenarios were evaluated: a MPA1 that closed the entire area to fisheries, and a MPA2 that allowed the small and big artisanal fisheries to operate. The results obtained using this spatial model agreed with similar scenarios simulated in Ecosim.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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