Playing “hide and seek” with the Mediterranean monk seal: a citizen science dataset reveals its distribution from molecular traces (eDNA)


Animal conservation relies on assessing the distribution and habitat use of species, but for endangered/elusive animals this can prove difficult. The Monk Seal, Monachus monachus, is one of the world's most endangered species of pinniped, and the only one endemic to the Mediterranean Sea. During recent decades, direct observations have been few and scattered, making it difficult to determine its distribution away from the Aegean Sea (core distribution area of the post-decline relict population). This study relies on environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis to detect the presence of the Monk Seal in 135 samples collected in 120 locations of the central/western Mediterranean Sea, spanning about 1500 km longitudinally and 1000 km latitudinally.


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