CEIC is currently working mainly in Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica. But other projects, e.g. close to the Peninsula Nicoya and in the Caribbean, are under way.
DOLPHIN PROJECT: Bottlenose (Tursiops truncatus) and Pantropical Spotted Dolphins (Stenella attenuata)
Location: Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica
- Identify areas of critical importance to dolphins such as foraging areas, breeding and calving habitats in the inner basin, outer sill area and the transitional-oceanic habitat in Golfo Dulce. The identification of critical habitats for resident top predators (represented by the cetacean fauna) is the basis for designing and implementing Marine Spatial Planning in the conservation of a species. It contributes to an ecosystem-based approach that integrates the current needs of non-consumptive use of resources, with the need to prevent a future relictual distribution of the species, as consequence of habitat loss and degradation, which is directly affecting key biological functions such as energy consumption (feeding), energy recovery (resting) or reproduction.
- To estimate population size and structure of spotted and bottlenose dolphins in the inner-basin and the outer-sill area, identifying patterns of residency, emigration and immigration to shed light onto the presumed insular character of the populations and to establish the extent of home ranges and local utilization distributions.
Methods:Surveys are carried out using as research platform a 9 m boat, powered by a 115 HP engine, a representative coverage of the study area is achieved by allocating an alternating search effort between sectors (inner-basin, outer area, transitional-oceanic) within a sampling term (usually seven days).
Our approach to identify critical habitat is based on the dynamic response (behaviour) of organisms to environmental structures, including resource availability. To evaluate the case of cetaceans’ critical habitat we record behaviour and their spatiotemporal-environmental-correlations.
|An example for a spatial analysis of records.|
We focus on two types of behavioural data records: behaviour at first sighting and continuous scan sampling by following groups using a strict protocol and connect that with GPS records. Behavioural observations are analysed and quantified through an activity budget while spatial data associated with each of the groups followed, allows the spatial analysis of behaviour through GIS.
Presence-absence data generated during surveys are integrated into spatial niche-modelling that relates utilization distribution with eco-geographical variables.
|A typical dorsal fin picture used to identify dolphins.|
HUMPBACK WHALE (Megaptera novaeangliae) PROJECT
Location: Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica
- To identify calving and breeding grounds for humpback whales, as well as to find potential temporal and spatial overlaps between the southern and northern stock, since this might imply an acoustic and even a genetic exchange.
Methods:Surveys are carried out using as research platform a 9 m boat, powered by a 115 HP
engine, a representative coverage of the study area is achieved by allocating an alternating search effort between sectors (inner-basin, outer-area, transitional-oceanic) within a sampling term (usually seven days).Individuals will be identified via Photo ID and bio-acoustic recordings (example for a humpbackwhale "song") and compared to already existing Humpback Whale data bases.
ANTHROPOGENIC IMPACTS IN GOLFO DULCE
- To classify and categorize areas of high anthropogenic disturbance around critical habitats.
- Describing the evolution of land use and the mangrove forest coverage along major rivers draining in the inner basin, considering its repercussion on coastal marine habitat degradation.
For this project the use of remote sensing products, e.g. land cover images (Landsat-MODIS) of the study area, is required. Such images have to be calibrated by field observations. We generate, with the help of GIS, thematic maps illustrating locations of high anthropogenic disturbance adjacent or within critical habitats in the inner basin.
All of the produced information is intended to reach stakeholders.
Particularly the communities involved in the active use of the coastal and marine habitats of Golfo Dulce, including the local delegation of ACOSA – MINAET, the governmental agency in charge of control and management of natural resources in the Osa Peninsula.
This key aspect includes also our physical involvement, such as in giving environmental advice or participating in discussions, through organized workshops with the local communities and ACOSA-MINAET, or assistance with the design and production of promotional - educational materials.