Synthesizing connectivity information from migratory marine species for area-based management

Kot CY, DeLand SE, Harrison A-L, et al (2023) Synthesizing connectivity information from migratory marine species for area-based management. Biological Conservation 283:110142.

Understanding the areas used by migratory marine animals and their movements is critical in supporting management decisions that target their conservation. This is especially important for long-lived species with large geographic extents and are more vulnerable to multiple threats. We conducted a literature review on data collected for 173 marine mammal, marine fish, sea turtle, and seabird species and determined that tracking animal movements with telemetry methods was the most effective tool for demonstrating ecological connectivity. From the references included for review, we found more references for sea turtles than other taxa, and more information was collected for all four taxa in the northern hemisphere. In addition, 30 % of references presented methods to process the raw telemetry tracks, only 11 % of references mentioned a repository for archiving data, and there was no significant trend in the number of references and current conservation level. For four case study species (Atlantic bluefin tuna, humpback whale, loggerhead sea turtle, and wandering albatross), we found more information published for adults and on the descriptions of sites focused on feeding and breeding activities, while sites used for migration and connectivity among areas used for migration were not well represented. Although connectivity data were published for most of the migratory marine species we reviewed, several knowledge gaps existed and there were limitations of the data presented within publications for direct applications to area-based management. We provided recommendations to address research gaps and guidance to improve the integration of connectivity data into area-based management decisions.