[MARMAM] New paper linking respiration rates to energy expenditure in minke whales to measure the effect of whale watching activities

Fredrik denupplyste at hotmail.com
Tue Jun 10 03:16:39 PDT 2014

Dear MARMAM colleagues,


We are happy to announce the publication
of the following paper in JEMBE focusing on the behavioural response of minke
whales towards whale watching boats and its effects on energy expenditure:


Christiansen, F., Rasmussen, M. & Lusseau, D. 2014.
Inferring energy expenditure from respiration rates in minke whales to measure
the effects of whale watching boat interactions. Journal of Experimental
Marine Biology and Ecology 459: 96-104.



Quantifying the energetic costs
of human induced behavioral disturbance on wildlife is a crucial step to
evaluate the potential long-term effects of disturbance on individual vital
rates. Standard methods cannot be used for estimating energetic cost of
transport because of the large size of most cetaceans, and instead energetic
costs are inferred from respiration rates. We quantified the added energetic
costs of avoidance to whale watching boats for minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) in Faxaflói
bay, Iceland, by comparing minke whale movement tracks and respiration in the
presence (impact) and absence (control) of whale watching boats. Energy
expenditure was inferred from respiration rates, using published bioenergetic
models for minke whales and mass-specific cost of transport (COT) was estimated
for different swimming speeds. The sensitivity of the COT estimate to model
assumptions was investigated using resampling methods. ANCOVA was used to investigate
the effects of swimming speed and whale watching boats on minke whale
respiration rate. Respiration rate increased linearly with swimming speed,
while COT decreased nonlinearly with increased speed up to an optimal speed
between 2.5 and 7.0 m s−1. Respiration rates were higher during
interactions with whale watching boats at any given speed, suggesting that boat
presence elicited a stress response in the animals, resulting in a 23.2%
increase in estimated energy expenditure. Swimming speed also increased during whalewatching
interactions from1.62 to 2.64ms−1, resulting in
an additional 4.4% increase in estimated energy expenditure during whale
watching interactions. Thus, whale watching boat interactions resulted in an
overall increase in estimated energy expenditure of 27.6%, from 56.54 to 72.16
J kg−1 min−1. During
interactions with whale watching boats, minke whales swam at speeds that were
within the lower range of the optimal COT. This suggests that minke whales
employ similar avoidance strategies towards whale watching boats as towards
natural predators.


A copy of the paper can be
downloaded from:




If you are unable to download the
article, please contact me by email and I will be happy to send you a copy:
f.christiansen at live.se.


Best regards,




Research fellow

Centre for Integrative Ecology

School of Life and Environmental Sciences

Deakin University 

Warrnambool Campus, PO Box 423, Warrnambool, VIC 3280,

Phone: +61 3 55633080

Email: f.christiansen at deakin.edu.au,
f.christiansen at live.se


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