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Keywords:

  • elephant seals;
  • Mirounga angustirostris;
  • habitat management;
  • marine protected areas;
  • habitat modelling;
  • climate change;
  • sea-level rise

ABSTRACT

  1. Northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) historically experienced a significant population decrease to the brink of extinction owing to human exploitation, but have since recovered and recolonized former breeding/haul-out sites. Point Reyes Peninsula, California, is one location where population increase has resulted in colony expansion.
  2. Initial models identified suitable breeding haul-outs and suggested that human disturbance, geomorphology, mean wave height, and slope were important explanatory variables. Three sea-level rise (SLR) scenarios were run, which indicated that most current and potential haul-out sites would largely be inundated by 2050. Because the Point Reyes coast has limited suitable habitat for the seals to colonize, conservation measures may guide management responses to SLR.
  3. The resulting analyses can be used to better understand local-scale seal responses to SLR and contribute to effective management of pinnipeds within Point Reyes National Seashore and elsewhere.

    Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.