Wspólnotowy Serwis Informacyjny Badan i Rozwoju - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - ANIMATE (Anthropogenic Impacts on the Atlantic marine Ecosystems of the Iberian Peninsula)

This EXC project (2007-10) delivered research and postgraduate training in "Anthropogenic Impacts on the Atlantic marine Ecosystems of the Iberian Peninsula". Five broad topic areas were identified:
(a) long-term trends in resource species abundance and the role of external drivers such as climate change and fishing pressure,
(b) how different types of coastal system respond to different fishery management options,
(c) how changes in prey abundance may impact on top predators in Galician waters,
(d) understanding marine mammal interactions with fisheries and,
(e) modelling fisher behaviour.

The project aimed to deliver new PhD and MSc project opportunities associated with the Host Institute (Instituto Español de Oceanografía) and relevant lecture and training courses, in part through links with the University of Vigo. In addition the chairholder continued to supervise research students registered at the University of Aberdeen and retained responsibility for ongoing research projects, e.g. the ECOSUMMER Marie Curie training site (2006-09).

Postgraduate research opportunities.
The project allowed the chairholder to provide supervisory support for 38 PhD, MPhil and MSc students over 3 years. Nine PhDs, two other higher research degrees, and six short MSc/diploma projects were successfully completed. ANIMATE provided new PhD opportunities for IEO staff and for students based both in the NW Iberian Peninsula and elsewhere in Europe, also summer research projects for MSc students and ongoing support for existing research students.

Teaching: The chairholder delivered PhD and Masters level courses at the University of Vigo, generic skills courses at IEO and several courses/lectures in other locations.

Contributions to policy: Work by the Chairholder and his students delivered relevant results and conservation advice related to cetacean ecology and interactions with fisheries, also research on several fisheries-related topics, through a range of fora (e.g. ICES). Contributions to understanding ecosystem responses to perturbations: Studies were undertaken of effects of persistent organic pollutants, heavy metals, fishing and climate change.
During the project period the chairholder co-authored 61 peer-reviewed journal papers that are either published or in press, also 4 book chapters and 8 other publications, in addition to delivering or participating in 88 conference presentations including 6 invited talks. This activity has contributed significantly to the Host institution's research output.

Key scientific findings related to the Iberian Peninsula included:
Demonstration of the existence of two populations of bottlenose dolphins in Galician waters, supported by genetic, stable isotope and dietary evidence;
New results on distribution and habitat use of small cetaceans in Galician waters, including association of bottlenose dolphins with more productive coastal areas;
Characterisation of life history and feeding ecology of NW Iberian cetacean populations; demonstration of unsustainably high fishery by-catch rates.
New analysis of persistent organic contaminant burdens in small cetaceans in European Atlantic waters and evidence of effects on reproduction;
New results on growth patterns and trophic ecology of squid in Iberian waters.
Quantification of environmental effects on long-term trends in Iberian sardine fisheries.
Identification of metiers in Spanish fishing fleets.

Other new research findings include new results on attitudes of fishermen to management measures (highlighting importance of consultation); effects of fishing and aquaculture on marine communities; links between large-scale climate phenomena, local oceanography and species distribution/abundance patterns (including reviews of methodology); squid biology and ecology (including reviews of knowledge of European cephalopod biology and fisheries); top predator feeding ecology, life history, distribution patterns and interactions with fisheries.

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