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Marine ecosystem assessment for the Southern Ocean: birds and marine mammals in a changing climate


Bestley, S and Ropert-Coudert, Y and Nash, SB and Brooks, CM and Cotte, C and Dewar, M and Friedlaender, AS and Jackson, JA and Labrousse, S and Lowther, AD and McMahon, CR and Phillips, RA and Pistorius, P and Puskic, PS and de A Reis, AO and Reisinger, RR and Santos, M and Tarszisz, E and Tixier, P and Trathan, PN and Wege, M and Wienecke, B, Marine ecosystem assessment for the Southern Ocean: birds and marine mammals in a changing climate, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 8 Article 566936. ISSN 2296-701X (2020) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright © 2020 Bestley, Ropert-Coudert, Bengtson Nash, Brooks, Cotté, Dewar, Friedlaender, Jackson, Labrousse, Lowther, McMahon, Phillips, Pistorius, Puskic,Reis, Reisinger, Santos, Tarszisz, Tixier, Trathan, Wege and Wienecke. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

DOI: doi:10.3389/fevo.2020.566936


The massive number of seabirds (penguins and procellariiformes) and marine mammals (cetaceans and pinnipeds) - referred to here as top predators - is one of the most iconic components of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean. They play an important role as highly mobile consumers, structuring and connecting pelagic marine food webs and are widely studied relative to other taxa. Many birds and mammals establish dense breeding colonies or use haul-out sites, making them relatively easy to study. Cetaceans, however, spend their lives at sea and thus aspects of their life cycle are more complicated to monitor and study. Nevertheless, they all feed at sea and their reproductive success depends on the food availability in the marine environment, hence they are considered useful indicators of the state of the marine resources. In general, top predators have large body sizes that allow for instrumentation with miniature data-recording or transmitting devices to monitor their activities at sea. Development of scientific techniques to study reproduction and foraging of top predators has led to substantial scientific literature on their population trends, key biological parameters, migratory patterns, foraging and feeding ecology, and linkages with atmospheric or oceanographic dynamics, for a number of species and regions. We briefly summarize the vast literature on Southern Ocean top predators, focusing on the most recent syntheses. We also provide an overview on the key current and emerging pressures faced by these animals as a result of both natural and human causes. We recognize the overarching impact that environmental changes driven by climate change have on the ecology of these species. We also evaluate direct and indirect interactions between marine predators and other factors such as disease, pollution, land disturbance and the increasing pressure from global fisheries in the Southern Ocean. Where possible we consider the data availability for assessing the status and trends for each of these components, their capacity for resilience or recovery, effectiveness of management responses, risk likelihood of key impacts and future outlook.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Southern Ocean, Antarctic, marine predators, seabirds, marine mammals, penguins, whales, climate change, human impacts, ecosystem assessment
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Coastal and estuarine systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems
UTAS Author:Bestley, S (Dr Sophie Bestley)
UTAS Author:McMahon, CR (Dr Clive McMahon)
UTAS Author:Puskic, PS (Mr Peter Puskic)
ID Code:141563
Year Published:2020
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DE180100828)
Web of Science® Times Cited:30
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2020-10-28
Last Modified:2021-02-18
Downloads:31 View Download Statistics

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