Monitoring of Delphinidae species population patterns in the Mediterranean Sea was carried out in a sequence of surveys employing different approaches. Data from seven-year surveys with small catamaran sailing boats were analyzed under model-based approaches. Density Surface Models were used to produce spatial distribution prediction of three Delphinidae species (Stenella coeruleoalba, Tursiops truncatus
, and Delphinus delphis
) in an extended study area covering much of the Mediterranean Sea. A classical distance sampling protocol was applied in order to calculate the detection probability of clusters. Static (depth, slope, distance from the coast, and distance from isobaths of 200 m) and nonstatic (sea surface temperature and chlorophyll) variables were used to predict the species distribution/abundance in a generalized additive model context. Stenella coeruleoalba
was found to be the dominant species, with an extended distribution in the study area; its abundance was significantly affected by both depth and distance. Tursiops truncatus
and Delphinus delphis
illustrated a significant abundance correlation with depth and chlorophyll, respectively, while both species showed a robust longitude correlation. Our model pinpoints the significance of nondesigned transect line surveys, suggesting the importance of specific habitat areas for future monitoring and conservation aspects of marine mammals.
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