Trends and gaps in marine mammal research from Mexico during 1998 – 2021
Marine mammals are very diverse because of the oceanographic conditions of Mexican waters (where 36% of the current species worldwide are found); however, scientific research on many of these taxa is still at the basic stages. The goal of this study was to assess the scientific information available for these species and to determine research priorities through a GAP (from the acronym "Good", "Average", and "Poor”) analysis. Information from the abstracts of the meetings held by the Mexican Society of Marine Mammalogy (SOMEMMA) and online databases (SCOPUS and Web of Science) between 1998 and 2021 was analyzed using temporal (years), geographic (oceans or states), taxonomic (species), and thematic (topics) classifications. On average, of the 44 species included in the Mexican legislation, only 16 - included in 14 families (with most of the records) - are studied every year, Delphinidae (n = 500; 25.9%), Balaenopteridae (n = 335; 17.4%), and Otariidae (n = 316; 16.4%). The Gulf of California was the most studied region (35.4%), followed by the Northeast Pacific (19.3%), the Gulf of Mexico (15.5%), and the Caribbean Sea (6.9%). The most frequent topics were population ecology (32.9%), conservation (16.7%), and animal health (10.4%). A significant decrease in the taxonomic and thematic diversity of such studies has been noted since SOMEMMA meetings began to be held on a biennial basis. It is noteworthy that marine mammals are protected by Mexican Federal laws. However, stock assessments are not mandatory, therefore biological aspects and trends of several (mostly oceanic) species remain unknown in many places, especially in regions where academic and scientific institutions are not involved in marine science.
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