Ten guiding principles for the delineation of priority habitat for endangered small cetaceans

TitleTen guiding principles for the delineation of priority habitat for endangered small cetaceans
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsRoss, Peter S., Barlow Jay, Jefferson Thomas A., Hickie Brendan E., Lee Tatiana, MacFarquhar Christina, E. Parsons Christien, Riehl Kimberly N., Rose Naomi A., Slooten Elisabeth, Tsai Chia-Yang, Wang John Y., Wright Andrew J., and Yang Shih Chu
JournalMarine Policy
ISBN Number0308-597X
EndNote Rec Number11701
Keywordscetaceans, conservation, endangered, habitat, marine mammals, Species at risk

The adoption of endangered species laws in various nations has intensified efforts to better understand, and protect, at-risk species or populations, and their habitats. In many countries, delineating a portion of a species' habitat as particularly worthy of protection has become a mantra of these laws. Unfortunately, the laws themselves often provide scientists and managers with few, if any, guidelines for how to define such habitat. Conservationists and scientists may view protecting part of the habitat of an endangered species as an ineffectual compromise, while managers may be under pressure to allow a range of human activities within the species' habitat. In the case of small cetaceans, establishing boundaries for such areas can also be complicated by their mobility, the fluid nature of their environment, and the often ephemeral nature of their habitat features. The convergence of multiple human impacts in coastal waters around the world is impacting many small cetaceans (and other species) that rely on these areas for feeding, reproducing, and resting. The ten guiding principles presented here provide a means to characterize the habitat needs of small, at-risk cetaceans, and serve as a basis for the delineation of ‘priority habitat’ boundaries. This conceptual approach should facilitate a constructive discourse between scientists and managers engaged in efforts to recover endangered species. The degree to which the recovery of an at-risk species can be reconciled with sustainable economic activity will depend in part on how well these principles are incorporated into the delineation of priority habitat.