[MARMAM] New Paper: Mobbing-like behavior by pilot whales towards killer whales: a response to resource competition or perceived predation risk?

Joan Giménez Verdugo joan.gimenez at csic.es
Tue Apr 22 09:05:35 PDT 2014

We are pleased to announce the publication of the paper:

R. De Stephanis, J. Giménez, R. Esteban, P. Gauffier, S. García-Tiscar,
M-H. S. Sinding and P. Verborgh (2014) Mobbing-like behavior by pilot
whales towards killer whales: a response to resource competition or
perceived predation risk? Acta Ethologica DOI 10.1007/s10211-014-0189-1

Interspecific interactions can be based on positive or negative outcome.
Within antagonist interactions, predation refers to a predator attacking
and feeding on a prey while competition is an interaction where individuals
compete for a common resource. Worldwide distributions of long-finned pilot
whales and killer whales rarely overlap, and they are not known to feed on
the same preys. However, in this study, we described the interactions
between long-finned pilot whales and killer whales in the Strait of
Gibraltar. The former was seen pursuing away the latter in all
observations. The main hypotheses for the cause of these interactions are
predation or competition. To test both hypotheses, movement patterns and
isotopic niches of both species were investigated in the Strait of
Gibraltar through satellite tagging and stable isotopes, respectively.
Satellite tracks showed no overlap between one tagged pilot whale and one
tagged killer whaler’s distributions during 21 days. Similarly, Euclidian
distances between centroids of Bayesian standard ellipse areas of carbon
and nitrogen stable isotopes were significantly different from zero,
showing different isotopic niches for each species. This shows that no
competition for the resources should exist between both species in the
Strait of Gibraltar and that they do not feed on each other, suggesting
that the interactions would not be related to predation. A possible
historical presence of marine mammal-eating killer whales in the area,
today disappeared, could explain the antipredator defense mobbing-like
behavior of pilot whales observed in the Strait.

A PDF copy can be downloaded from:

Please do not hesitate to contact us for any question regarding our work.

Best regards,

 Joan Gimenez

*Joan Giménez Verdugo*
PhD Student

*Estación Biológica de Doñana (CSIC) *
*Department of Conservation Biology*
Avenida Americo Vespucio s/n
41092 Sevilla
 Mail: joan.gimenez at csic.es
Phone: +34619176849
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