Management Scenarios for Whale Shark in Southeast Asia

Published on
12. June 2020

Anticipatory Marine Conservation Outcomes: Management Scenarios for Whale Shark in Southeast Asia

Carlos A. Morales-Ramirez, Yi-Chen Wang


The whale shark is a globally endangered species that is distributed in tropical and warm temperate waters. This study modeled the present-day and future habitat suitability of this species in the Sunda tectonic plate region in Southeast Asia to identify changes and highlight potential areas for conservation. Presence data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature were combined with six environment variables to model habitat suitability under three climate change scenarios. The present-day model results showed that most areas of high suitability matched the occurrence data. The future models generated revealed a small decrease in habitat suitability on the Sunda plate. In all of the three future models, two areas of high suitability were predicted: the central islands of the Philippines and southern Thailand. Areas of high suitability remained the same in the parts of the Gulf of Thailand, southern Indonesia, and the central islands of the Philippines. Based on this information, suggestions on how to protect the environment in these areas were made, including a regional assessment of the whale shark status and implementing a species recovery plan in Southeast Asia.

The Professional Geographer, DOI: 10.1080/00330124.2020.1764371


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