[MARMAM] New publication on “Estimating Cumulative Exposure of Wildlife to Non-Lethal Disturbance Using Spatially Explicit Capture-Recapture Models”

Fredrik denupplyste at hotmail.com
Tue Jan 13 15:12:42 PST 2015

MARMAM colleagues,


We are happy
to announce the publication of the following paper in the Journal of Wildlife


Christiansen, F., Bertulli, C.G., Rasmussen, M. &
Lusseau, D. 2015. Estimating Cumulative Exposure of Wildlife to Non-Lethal
Disturbance Using Spatially Explicit Capture-Recapture Models. The Journal
of Wildlife Management. DOI: 10.1002/jwmg.836



Impact assessments often focus on short-term behavioral responses of
animals to human disturbance. However, it is the cumulative effects caused by
repeated behavioral disruptions which are of management concern, since these
effects have the potential to influence individuals’ survival and reproduction.
We need to estimate individual exposure rates to disturbance in order to
determine cumulative effects. In this study we present a new approach to
estimate the spatial exposure of minke whales to whalewatching boats in
Faxaflói bay, Iceland. We use recent advances in spatially explicit capture
recapture modelling to estimate the probability that whales will encounter a
disturbance (i.e. whalewatching boat). Spatially-explicit individual encounter
histories of individually-identifiable animals were obtained using
photo-identification. The study
area was divided into 1 km2 grid cells, where each cell was
considered a spatially distinct sampling unit. We used capture history of
individuals to model and estimate spatial encounter probabilities of individual
minke whales across the study area, accounting for heterogeneity in sampling
effort. We inferred the exposure of individual minke whales to whalewatching
vessels throughout the feeding season by estimating individual whale encounters
with vessels using the whale encounter probabilities and spatially-explicit
whalewatching intensity in the same area, obtained from recorded whalewatching
vessel tracks. We could then estimate the cumulative time whales spent with whalewatching
boats to assess the biological significance of whalewatching disturbances. The
estimated exposure levels to boats varied considerably between individuals, due
to both temporal and spatial variations in the activity centers of whales and
the whalewatching intensity in the area. However, although some whales were
repeatedly exposed to whalewatching boats throughout the feeding season, the
estimated cumulative time they spent with boats was very low. While
whalewatching boat interactions caused feeding disruptions for the whales, the
estimated low cumulative exposure makes it unlikely that the whalewatching
industry in its current state is having any long-term negative effects on vital


an early view of this paper, please visit:




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.






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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