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Master Thesis

Predicting variations in coastal seabird habitats to assess marine protected areas

Abstract : Seabirds, like other predators, need to maximize their nutritional intakes and minimize their energy costs during foraging periods and thereby optimize their strategies of resources and habitats utilization. These strategies mainly depend on environmental conditions and can be described through habitat models for the implementation of conservation plans of species and ecosystems. The objectives of this study were: (1) to determine the mechanisms that mostly influence the distribution of seabirds along the French coasts; (2) to determine the effects of seasonal variations of these mechanisms; (3) to provide an assessment of all conservation sites established or proposed along these coasts and in Channel and Atlantic waters under French jurisdiction. We collected data of coastal seabird sightings from aerial surveys carried out in the English Channel and the eastern North Atlantic in winter and summer. We classified seabirds into morphological groups and described their habitats by using physiographic and oceanographic variables in generalized additive models (GAM). Finally, we provided, for each conservation site, a measure of its importance for the protection of the studied species. It would appear that distribution of coastal seabirds was essentially determined by distance to the coast, highest densities being predicted near the coast, with possible variations depending on the season. Finally, it appears that a majority of protected sites established along the French coasts would not be relevant to the conservation at sea of the studied species.
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Master Thesis
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Auriane Virgili. Predicting variations in coastal seabird habitats to assess marine protected areas. Agricultural sciences. 2014. ⟨dumas-01101356⟩

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