Tracking highly migratory species in the Mediterranean
& adjacent Seas
A Basin scale initiative
Highly mobile species, often characterised by a migratory or semi-migratory behaviour, are able to cover very long distances across multiple biogeographic areas.
They are important ecologically, as they are part of the food web of different ecosystems that they also connect, and socio-economically, as they often represent a food resource for humans and an attraction for eco-tourism activities. As they occupy different habitats depending on their life cycle, these species are also more sensitive and vulnerable to anthropogenic pressures which are particularly severe in the Mediterranean Sea (overfishing, maritime traffic, acoustic pollution, etc.).
Seabirds in the Mediterranean are increasingly threatened by climate change, depletion of sea food resources, and other human related impacts (by-catch captures, artificial light pollution, habitat destruction). Although only few are considered critically endangered globally, in the Mediterranean and Black Sea region the situation is much different, whereby 25 species are listed in the Annex II List of Threatened and Endangered species of the SPA Protocol of the Barcelona Convention.
Elasmobranchs (sharks & rays)
Almost half of the sharks and rays present in the Mediterranean Sea are classified as “Endangered” or “Threatened” in the IUCN Red List; this assessment is probably underestimated, taking into account that 37% of the species are data deficient or not available for the Mediterranean Sea.
What is the distribution of species? Where do they move to and when?
What are their migratory pathways? What is the connectivity of populations?
For both seabirds and elasmobranchs, the ecological knowledge still remains fragmentary and geographically limited, making it difficult to forecast realistic population trends. Further, for many of these species, migration corridors, breeding and foraging areas of preference are poorly known/ understood. Such vast knowledge gaps not only seriously limit the efficiency of local protection measures with regard to these species, but also could mask important signals of their response to natural/anthropogenic changes in the ecosystems.
The project main challenges are to fill in major knowledge gaps in the geographic distribution and movements of seabirds and elasmobranchs (sharks and rays) in the Mediterranean and Black Sea Basins; and identify as best as feasible migration corridors and the interconnected breeding, foraging and wintering areas.
A financial contribution to the programme activities has been granted by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation for a four-year period (2020-2024).