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Long-Term Population Trends of Patagonian Marine Mammals and Their Ecosystem Interactions in the Context of Climate Change

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Abstract

This chapter reviews the existing data of distribution, population estimates, and trend of the most conspicuous species of pinnipeds and cetaceans in the Argentine sea, in particular the Patagonian ecosystem, exploring foraging ecology and population consumption of prey through time. The chapter focuses on the South American sea lion, South American fur seal, southern right whale, and a couple of dolphin species, dusky and Commerson´s dolphins. It also addresses the interactions of these species with humans over time, since the use by aboriginal peoples through the European colonization who sent many species to the edge of extinction, their recent recovery, the rising of new problems with fisheries and tourism as a conservation strategy, and the potential risks of climate change. Only a few cases of effects on populations have been documented in species living in Southwest Atlantic (SWA) waters, mostly related to the Southern Ocean, which is connected to the SWA by water currents which, in turn, transport nutrients far north. Several species are connected to both areas by feeding and breeding like the southern right whale. A potential sustainable equilibrium between human use of the ocean and the sustainability of top predators should be reached.

Keywords

  • Pinnipeds
  • Cetaceans
  • Distribution
  • Interactions

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-86676-1_11
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Acknowledgments

I wish to thank my professors and mentors for their advice and experience and disciples and companions of the Marine Mammal Laboratory (CENPAT-CONICET) for the many years working together. I also thank the numerous government, nongovernment, and private organizations that funded my research work throughout almost four decades. Thanks also to E.L. Piana, M.A. Romero, N.A. García, R.L. Browell Jr., L.R. Oliveira, J.A. Raga, and F.J. Aznar for reviewing this chapter critically and helping with drawings. Tamara Crespo reviewed the English language.

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Crespo, E.A. (2022). Long-Term Population Trends of Patagonian Marine Mammals and Their Ecosystem Interactions in the Context of Climate Change. In: Helbling, E.W., Narvarte, M.A., González, R.A., Villafañe, V.E. (eds) Global Change in Atlantic Coastal Patagonian Ecosystems. Natural and Social Sciences of Patagonia. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-86676-1_11

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