Using Geographic Information Systems to Predict North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis) Habitat

Journal Article

Title: Using Geographic Information Systems to Predict North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis) Habitat
Authors: Moses, E.; Finn, J.
Publication Date:
December 01, 1997
Journal: Journal of Northwest Atlantic Fishery Science
Volume: 22
Pages: 37-46

Document Access

Website: External Link
Attachment: Access File
(955 KB)

Citation

Moses, E.; Finn, J. (1997). Using Geographic Information Systems to Predict North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis) Habitat. Journal of Northwest Atlantic Fishery Science, 22, 37-46.
Abstract: 

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are an innovative and powerful tool to define relationships between species and habitat in large marine ecosystems. The objectives of this study were: 1) to gather bathymetry, SST(sea-surface temperature), and right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) sightings data and convert them to GIS coverages, and 2) to create a GIS based logistic regression model to predict North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) distribution as a function of SST and bathymetry. Part of the Scotian Shelf, 45°00'N to 42°00'N latitude and 66°00'W to 61°00'W longitude, was used as a study area to develop the model. The validity of the model was tested in a separate area with known right whale distribution, and the results showed that the model predicted sightings where right whales had been observed. Observations had shown that during their seasonal migration, a portion of the population does not appear in the known summering grounds in the Gulf of Maine, Bay of Fundy, and on the Scotian Shelf. New genetic evidence suggested an additional summering ground. Using the model, predictions for the North Atlantic showed possible summering grounds in areas which were historical whaling grounds. The results from the model can be incorporated into the Recovery Plan for this species. GIS offers an inexpensive method to examine marine mammals in relation to environmental and oceanographic features which affect their life histories.

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