[MARMAM] New publication modelling the energetics of migrating humpback whales

Janelle Braithwaite janelle.braithwaite at gmail.com
Wed Apr 1 05:58:07 PDT 2015

My co-authors and I are pleased to share with you our recent publication in
Conservation Physiology:

*Optimal migration energetics of humpback whales and the implications of
Janelle E. Braithwaite, Jessica J. Meeuwig, and Matthew R. Hipsey

Whales migrate long distances and reproduce on a finite store of energy.
Budgeting the use of this limited energy reserve is an important factor to
ensure survival over the period of migration and to maximize reproductive
investment. For some whales, migration routes are closely associated with
coastal areas, exposing animals to high levels of human activity. It is
currently unclear how various forms of human activity may disturb whales
during migration, how this might impact their energy balance and how this
could translate into long-term demographic changes. Here, we develop a
theoretical bioenergetic model for migrating humpback whales to investigate
the optimal migration strategy that minimizes energy use. The average
migration velocity was an important driver of the total energy used by a
whale, and an optimal velocity of 1.1 m s−1 was determined. This optimal
velocity is comparable to documented observed migration speeds, suggesting
that whales migrate at a speed that conserves energy. Furthermore, the
amount of resting time during migration was influenced by both transport
costs and feeding rates. We simulated hypothetical disturbances to the
optimal migration strategy in two ways, by altering average velocity to
represent changes in behavioural activity and by increasing total travelled
distance to represent displacement along the migration route. In both
cases, disturbance increased overall energy use, with implications for the
growth potential of calves.

Janelle Braithwaite
janelle.braithwaite at gmail.com
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