Volume 50, No. 2

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Identification of marine Important Conservation Areas for Mediterranean Storm Petrels Hydrobates pelagicus melitensis breeding in Sardinia, Italy



1BIO-AVM, Istiuto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale (ISPRA), Ozzano dell'Emilia, Italy *(
2Dipartimento di Scienze e Politiche Ambientali, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy
3Regione Pireddu Nieddu snc, Stintino, Italy
4Azienda Speciale Parco di Porto Conte, Alghero, Italy
5Ornis Italica, Rome, Italy
6Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita e Biologia dei Sistemi, Università degli Studi di Torino, Turin, Italy
7School of Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom


DE PASCALIS, F., PISU, D., PALA, D., BENVENUTI, A., VISALLI, F., CARLON, E., SERRA, L., RUBOLINI, D. & CECERE, J.G. 2022. Identification of marine Important Conservation Areas for Mediterranean Storm Petrels Hydrobates pelagicus melitensis breeding in Sardinia, Italy. Marine Ornithology 50: 205 - 210

Received 24 February 2022, accepted 11 July 2022

Date Published: 2022/10/15
Date Online: 2022/09/22
Key words: seabird, conservation, European Storm Petrel, marine spatial planning, human impact


Marine predators are an important component of marine trophic webs, and their decline has important consequences on whole ecosystem dynamics. Understanding their movements and habits is vital for conservation, yet extremely challenging. Tracking technologies, coupled with a robust, reproducible, and quantitative analytical framework, are being used to successfully identify Important Conservation Areas (ICAs) for seabirds, which are wide-ranging and declining marine predators. However, the identification of such areas is skewed towards large-bodied seabird species, and there are few marine ICAs for small-bodied birds like storm petrels. We GPS-tracked Mediterranean Storm Petrels Hydrobates pelagicus melitensis breeding in northwestern Sardinia over three consecutive breeding seasons (2019-2021), and we applied a recently proposed analytical framework for the assessment of ICAs using GPS data. We identified an area of 40 638 km2 in the central Mediterranean Sea that spans three different national marine jurisdictions and partially falls within the Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean Marine Mammals. In these ICAs, a range of human activities take place (e.g., fishing activities, maritime traffic, tanker maritime routes), particularly in the neritic zones. Despite the relatively low human presence in the area, the human impact on the Mediterranean Sea is predicted to increase in future years, with important consequences for conservation. International cooperation to identify ICAs at the basin scale is needed, given the trans-national nature of storm petrel movements. Here, we describe the polygon of the identified ICAs for the Italian population of Mediterranean Storm Petrel we studied (available for download) to help inform marine spatial planning and target the conservation and protection of the species.


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