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Conceptu Maris at the ECS conference

A summary of the works

The 35th edition of the ECS, European Cetacean Society conference was held in Catania from 10 to 12 April 2024, an event of great importance for LIFE Conceptu Maris.

The project partners were present in force at the event, participating with 2 oral presentations, 3 scientific posters and 1 short film, during the video nights, as well as having organized a workshop dedicated to the use of commercial ferries as observation platforms and research laboratories.

Below is a summary of the main themes, exposed by the Conceptu Maris partners, during the conference.
➡ Identification of critical areas for the conservation of cetaceans. An index that combines several parameters was used to compare 10 important areas for Mediterranean cetaceans, using data from 2008 to 2021, the result of the collaboration between the partners of FLT Med Net and Life CONCEPTU MARIS. The most important areas appear to be the Pelagos Sanctuary and the Alboran Sea and Gibraltar, with other areas however relevant for individual groups of  species.
Testing a vulnerability index to compare ten important areas for cetacean conservation in the Mediterranean Sea – Oral presentation: Antonella Arcangeli (ISPRA) et al.


➡ Fin whale habitat modeling. Efforts to understand the habitat of highly migratory species require spatial predictions with distribution models. This study evaluated the effectiveness of GAM models in estimating density and habitat suitability for fin whales in the northwestern Mediterranean.
Evaluating fin whale distribution in the Mediterranean Sea using Generalized Additive Models (GAMs) and Hurdle Models – Oral presentation: Francesca Grossi (CIMA) et al.


➡ Distribution of cetaceans in the Adriatic region. In the context of LIFE Conceptu Maris, a survey was conducted on the diversity of cetaceans in the ADRION region (Northern Adriatic and Ionian Sea), using ferries as observation platforms along the Ancona-Patras route in the period 2015-2019. The presence of different species, such as bottlenose dolphin, dolphin, fin whale, Risso’s whale and beaked whale, has been associated with areas with different bathymetry, such as continental shelves, slopes and underwater canyons.
Cetacean diversity in the ADRION Region (Adriatic Sea and Northern Ionian Sea) – Giorgio Rosestolato (ISPRA) et al. – Poster


➡ Present and future of the dolphin in the Adriatic region. In the LIFE Conceptu Maris project, the distribution of the striped dolphin in the Adriatic and Ionian basins under current and future climate scenarios was studied. The data collected from the ferries, analyzed using the MaxEnt model, highlights changes in suitable habitats, which will move towards the Southern Adriatic and the Adriatic-Ionian depressions.
From current condition to future scenarios of striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba) in the ADRION Region: Species Distribution Models (SDM) and Extension of Suitable Habitat (ESH) in relation to climate conditions – Marta Azzolin  (Università di Torino) et al. – Poster


➡ Review of cetacean distribution modeling techniques. The systematic review of the scientific literature highlighted the wide variety of approaches and models used in modeling cetacean distribution. By examining 277 scientific publications, more promising modeling techniques were identified. The considerations in choosing the most appropriate model and integrating the results into cetacean conservation activities have been highlighted below.
Navigating the depths: a comprehensive review of cetacean distribution models and conservation insight – Eugenia Pasanisi (Università di Roma) et al. – Poster


➡ Presentation of the video The information Chain – Data collection and use in LIFE Conceptu Maris. A substantial amount of standardized data on cetaceans and turtles was collected in 2022 and 2023, with valuable support from volunteers. To ensure a meaningful comparison with the data already collected, all information is subjected to validation and integration into a Common Database. This database will serve as the basis for the analysis, providing crucial guidance for the development of a Decision Support System, a valuable tool for policy makers – Antonella Servidio (Triton Research) et al., video nights event.

The abstracts of the publications with the work program are visible on the ECS website