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Critical factors for the recovery of marine mammals

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{en} Over the past decades, much research has focused on understanding the critical factors for marine extinctions with the aim of preventing further species losses in the oceans. Although conservation and management strategies are enabling several species and populations to recover, others remain at low abundance levels or continue to decline. To understand these discrepancies, we used a published database on abundance trends of 137 populations of marine mammals worldwide and compiled data on 28 potentially critical factors for recovery. We then applied random forests and additive mixed models to determine which intrinsic and extrinsic factors are critical for the recovery of marine mammals. A mix of life‐history characteristics, ecological traits, phylogenetic relatedness, population size, geographic range, human impacts, and management efforts explained why populations recovered or not. Consistently, species with lower age at maturity and intermediate habitat area were more likely to recover, which is consistent with life‐history and ecological theory. Body size, trophic level, social interactions, dominant habitat, ocean basin, and habitat disturbance also explained some differences in recovery patterns. Overall, a variety of intrinsic and extrinsic factors were important for species’ recovery, pointing to cumulative effects. Our results provide insight for improving conservation and management strategies to enhance recoveries in the future.
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Keywords: características de historia de vida; cumulative effects; efectos acumulativos; estrategias de manejo; extensión geográfica; geographic range; habitat disturbance; life‐history traits; management strategies; nivel trófico; perturbación de hábitat; population trends; recovery rate; tasa de recuperación; tendencias poblacionales; trophic level

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2017

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