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MPhil/PhD study on the assessment of the ecosystem services and conservation management of the local sperm whale population off Mauritius

The ecosystem-based management of natural resources is critical for sustaining marine ecosystem services for human populations. This is especially true for Small Island Developing States (SIDS), such as Mauritius, which are dependent on healthy marine systems. Marine mammals, are an important component of marine ecosystems and an important source of ecosystem services for humans.  These services, which combine environmental, economic and social benefits, can be difficult to cost, and their inclusion in ecosystem-based management measures remains challenging, mainly due to the lack of sufficient research and data. One of the most commonly encountered cetacean species in the near-shore waters of Mauritius is the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), which is listed as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

As part of her MPhil/PhD, Lana Barteneva aims to assess the value of ecosystem services delivered by sperm whales in Mauritius, to assess threats to the stable provision of these services, and the existing conservation management of the species in Mauritius. The research methodology will be interdisciplinary, including biology, ecology, economics and elements of sociological research. It is hoped that this study will contribute to improved environmental management of the species in Mauritius, serve as a tool in Marine Spatial Planning (MSP), and support national biodiversity conservation programs. In a global context, the research results can be be applied to other SIDS,  and may be useful for the broader management of the species in the Mascarene Archipelago and the Indian Ocean in general. 

Lana is registered at the University of Mauritius and will work under the supervision of Dr Stephanie Plön and Dr Chandani Appadoo. The research will be carried out with the permission of the Mauritius authorities and supported by the Marine Megafauna Conservation Organisation (MMCO) in the framework of the Project " Conservation of threatened marine megafauna species in Mauritius “, funded by the GEF SGP UNDP.  

Contributor : Svetlana Barteneva