The teamAna Cañadas

Ana Cañadas

Director of Research

 

Dr Ana Cañadas is biologist by the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. She is the Director of Research of ALNILAM and was Director of Research of Alnitak since its foundation (1989) until 2011. In 1992 she started a long-term project to investigate the ecology of several species of cetaceans in the Alborán Sea and contiguous waters. Her research interests are mainly population dynamics and ecology, and the application of science to inform conservation and management. Research activities focus on four main areas: (a) investigation and modelling of the distribution, habitat selection and habitat use of marine top predators; (b) the estimation of abundance and trends; (c) development and application of novel analytical methodologies; (d) development and application of practical measures based on robust science to address specific conservation and management issues. She got her PhD on Biology “Towards the Conservation of dolphins in the Alboran Sea” in 2006 at the University Autónoma of Madrid. Her supervisors were Dr. Arturo Morales Muñíz (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid) and Prof. Philip Hammond (University of St Andrews, Scotland).

Over the last years she has played an important coordination role in several important projects devoted to the research and conservation of cetaceans, founded by the Spanish Government and the European Comission: the "Programme for the identification of the areas of special interest for the conservation of cetaceans in the Spanish Mediterranean" for Southern Spain founded by the Spanish Ministry for the Environment; the European project Europhlukes (EVR1-CT2001-20007), the LIFE-Nature project "Conservation of cetaceans and turtles in Murcia and Andalucia (LIFE02NAT/E/8610), the project "Monitoring of small cetaceans in European waters of the North Atlantic" founded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Spanish participation to the LIFE-Nature project "SCANS-II" (LIFE04NAT/GB/000245).

She has been consultant researcher by the Duke University Marine Laboratory (US) within the Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation “Spatially-explicit Conservation in the Alborán Sea: Predictive Habitat Modeling and Gap Analysis Guide Pelagic Protected Area Designs”; coordinator of the ACCOBAMS project “Ziphius initiative. Mapping of habitats of Cuvier’s beaked whales in the Mediterranean Sea”; coordinator in Spain for the project "Monitoring of cetaceans in the deep European waters of the North Atlantic", Spanish participation to the project “CODA – Cetacean Offshore Distribution and Abundance” coordinated by the University of St Andrews (Scotland); and member of the research team for the project "Development of technologies and new methods to reduce the bycatch of protected species of the marine fauna: loggerhead turtles and bottlenose dolphins" founded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, She was also assigned by the Scientific Committee of ACCOBAMS in 2003 to start the process of the development of a cetaceans survey to obtain baseline information in the whole Mediterranean basin and the Black Sea. She is at present member of the Cetacean Specialist Group of the IUCN and of the Scientific Committee of the Internaitonal Whaling Commission, and was memeber of the Scientific Committee of ACCOBAMS until 2010.

Her most significant contributions to conservation efforts are in two fields. One is the development of conservation plans, including a Conservation Plan for bottlenose dolphins and a Conservation Plan for loggerhead turtles in southern Spanish waters (2002-2006) for the European Commission and the Spanish Ministry of Environment, and participation in the development of the Mediterranean Conservation Plan for common dolphins (2004) for ACCOBAMS. The second field deals with the application of novel methodologies to inform conservation, an effective way of connecting the definition of important issues and taking actions to address them. The best example of this is her development of density surface modelling (both in terms of habitat preference modelling and model-based abundance estimation) as a conservation tool. She has used this in a number of applications: (1) the proposal of MPAs for cetaceans in southern Spanish waters; (2) the development of model-based abundance estimates for bottlenose dolphins off southern Spain, which highlighted the importance of long-term studies to understand natural variation in abundance in a specific area in which the species is subject to threats; (3) investigation of the ecology and trends in abundance of the population of common dolphins off southern Spain, developing a method to incorporate intrinsic factors (e.g. behaviour, social organization) in the spatial modelling to gain insight in their habitat use; and (4) the creation of a collaborative research network in the Mediterranean with the first aim to build habitat preference models for Cuvier’s beaked whales in the whole basin, based on a joint database, to inform users of the marine environment (e.g. the military, seismic exploration companies) about areas of high probability of presence of this species that is especially vulnerable to man-made noise.

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