[MARMAM] Definitions of residency / site fidelity for cetaceans

Áine O'Shea osheaine at gmail.com
Sun Jun 23 15:39:58 PDT 2013

I am currently undertaking a dolphin research internship & I am helping
with some residency and site fidelity studies / research at the moment. I
am however finding it difficult to obtain an accurate definition of what
‘residency’ and ‘site-fidelity’ actually represent in a particular area. I
have read through some papers and articles relating to residency of a
particular species; I have purely been looking at cetacean based studies.

My understanding is, it is a relatively vague definition, and from what I
can gather, it varies from one study to the next, and also varies in the
differing regions of study.

Would I be correct in assuming; to define residency of a particular species
in a particular area, would be at the discretion of the people conducting
the study? For example; residency patterns or site-fidelity of Orca’s in
the South-west Atlantic in the Falklands / Malvinas archipelago can vary
significantly from that of a residency study of Orca’s just off Vancouver
Island, British Columbia.

Both of these studies appeared to differ in:

·         Study area size

·         Frequency of visits by particular individuals

·         The amount of individuals surveyed

I understand these are after all, studies which are conducted in the Ocean,
which in itself is an enormous expanse of water, for which these or any
mammals can go wherever they may choose. What I am searching for is a more
clear understanding or explanation as to what residency and site fidelity
essentially consist of.

If anyone could shed some light on this, I would be very appreciative!

Many Thanks,


– Cetacean enthusiast
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