Environmental models for predicting oceanic dolphin habitat in the Northeast Atlantic

G D Hastie, R J Swift, G Slesser, P M Thompson, W R Turrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


Dolphin distributions have been related to a range of oceanographic determinants. The complex topography and hydrography of the Faroe-Shetland Channel have a significant influence on the distribution of many species. However, there is no published detail on how dolphin distributions there are influenced by either topography or hydrography. The study therefore aims to relate dolphin distributions in the Faroe-Shetland Channel to environmental variables, using a general additive modelling framework applied to passive acoustic survey data. Models were created using data from 2001, and were cross-validated to test their predictive power. Predictions were calculated at each stage in the model-building process, and were tested against data from 2002. The results suggest that water noise level, time of day, month, water depth, and surface temperature were significant influences on the probability of detecting dolphins acoustically during 2001. Furthermore, the model was a significant predictor of dolphin distribution in 2002. The model with the greatest predictive power included the terms water noise level, time of day, month, and water depth. The results provide information of potential use in understanding the determinants of dolphin distributions, and hopefully will help managers address concerns about the potential impacts on dolphins of anthropogenic activity. (c) 2005 International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)760-770
Number of pages11
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2005


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