Tracking of marine predators to protect Southern Ocean ecosystems

Mark A. Hindell*, Ryan R. Reisinger, Yan Ropert-Coudert, Luis A. Hückstädt, Philip N. Trathan, Horst Bornemann, Jean Benoît Charrassin, Steven L. Chown, Daniel P. Costa, Bruno Danis, Mary Anne Lea, David Thompson, Leigh G. Torres, Anton P. Van de Putte, Rachael Alderman, Virginia Andrews-Goff, Ben Arthur, Grant Ballard, John Bengtson, Marthán N. BesterArnoldus Schytte Blix, Lars Boehme, Charles André Bost, Peter Boveng, Jaimie Cleeland, Rochelle Constantine, Stuart Corney, Robert J. M. Crawford, Luciano Dalla Rosa, P. J. Nico de Bruyn, Karine Delord, Sébastien Descamps, Mike Double, Louise Emmerson, Mike Fedak, Ari Friedlaender, Nick Gales, Michael E. Goebel, Kimberly T. Goetz, Christophe Guinet, Simon D. Goldsworthy, Rob Harcourt, Jefferson T. Hinke, Kerstin Jerosch, Akiko Kato, Knowles R. Kerry, Roger Kirkwood, Gerald L. Kooyman, Kit M. Kovacs, Kieran Lawton, Andrew D. Lowther, Christian Lydersen, Phil O'B. Lyver, Azwianewi B. Makhado, Maria E. I. Márquez, Birgitte I. McDonald, Clive R. McMahon, Monica Muelbert, Dominik Nachtsheim, Keith W. Nicholls, Erling S. Nordøy, Silvia Olmastroni, Richard A. Phillips, Pierre Pistorius, Joachim Plötz, Klemens Pütz, Norman Ratcliffe, Peter G. Ryan, Mercedes Santos, Colin Southwell, Iain Staniland, Akinori Takahashi, Arnaud Tarroux, Wayne Trivelpiece, Ewan Wakefield, Henri Weimerskirch, Barbara Wienecke, José C. Xavier, Simon Wotherspoon, Ian D. Jonsen, Ben Raymond

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Southern Ocean ecosystems are under pressure from resource exploitation and climate change1,2. Mitigation requires the identification and protection of Areas of Ecological Significance (AESs), which have so far not been determined at the ocean-basin scale. Here, using assemblage-level tracking of marine predators, we identify AESs for this globally important region and assess current threats and protection levels. Integration of more than 4,000 tracks from 17 bird and mammal species reveals AESs around sub-Antarctic islands in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and over the Antarctic continental shelf. Fishing pressure is disproportionately concentrated inside AESs, and climate change over the next century is predicted to impose pressure on these areas, particularly around the Antarctic continent. At present, 7.1% of the ocean south of 40°S is under formal protection, including 29% of the total AESs. The establishment and regular revision of networks of protection that encompass AESs are needed to provide long-term mitigation of growing pressures on Southern Ocean ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-92
Number of pages22
JournalNature
Volume580
Issue number7801
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2020

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