The conservation of the endangered Mediterranean common dolphin (Delphinus delphis): Current knowledge and research priorities
de Stephanis, Renaud
Vella, Joseph G.
Doukara, Kamel Larbi
Pace, Daniela Silvia
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(1) Preservation of endangered species is now recognized as a relevant component of regional and global conservation actions achieved through the maintenance of the remaining populations in a favourable conservation status. The Mediterranean common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) is listed as an Endangered subpopulation in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, with declining numbers in some of the areas where it has been studied for numerous years. Prey depletion, fisheries bycatch, pollution, health risks, and climate change are among the recognized threats that the species is facing in the region. (2) The existing national, regional, and international legislation pertinent to Mediterranean countries should aid greater science–policy–management integration and support innovative research and monitoring towards effective conservation. The challenges inherent in studying the pelagic D. delphis should not preclude the use of long-term, year-round, multiplatform surveys, side by side with the latest molecular tools, which aid our understanding of its populations' genetic diversity, resistance to diseases, and resilience in a semi-enclosed fast-changing sea. (3) Addressing the multiplicity of problems confronting the species requires collaborative effort at all levels to share and merge resources, data, and expertise more efficiently. In this review, we provide an overview of the current knowledge on the Mediterranean common dolphin, the main threats, and knowledge gaps that are priorities for addressing its conservation, while providing clear recommendations for effectively safeguarding the species and its habitat at both local and regional levels.
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