[MARMAM] New paper on Oceania humpback whales

Emma Carroll elc6 at st-andrews.ac.uk
Tue Sep 1 22:12:38 PDT 2015

Dear Colleagues,
we are please to announce a new open-access publication on the IUCN-listed
Oceania humpback whale population:

Assessing the design and power of capture−recapture studies to estimate
demographic parameters for the Endangered Oceania humpback whale population

E. L. Carroll, L. Brooks, C. S. Baker3, D. Burns, C. Garrigue, N. Hauser,
J. A. Jackson, M. M. Poole, R. M. Fewster

ABSTRACT: Capture−recapture studies offer a powerful tool to assess
abundance, survival and population rate of change (λ). A previous
capture−recapture study, based on DNA profiles, esti- mated that the
IUCN-listed Endangered Oceania population of humpback whales had a super-
population size of 4329 whales (95% confidence limits, CL: 3345, 5315) and
λ = 1.03 (95% CL: 0.90−1.18) for the period 1999−2005. This low estimate of
λ contrasts with the high estimated λ for the neighbouring east Australia
population (1.11; 95% CL: 1.105−1.113). A future assessment of Oceania
humpbacks through capture−recapture methodology has been proposed to meet 3
objec- tives: (1) estimate population size with a coefficient of variation
of <20%, and detect if λ is signif- icantly different from (2) 1.00 or (3)
λ of east Australia. The proposed survey design involves using DNA profiles
to identify whales on principal breeding grounds within Oceania in
proportion to the abundance of whales on these grounds over the 10 to 12 wk
wintering period, to minimise capture heterogeneity between individuals and
to maximise capture probabilities. Simulations of the idealised survey
design incorporating data from the previous surveys (1999−2005) with 3 new
survey years were conducted under a range of scenarios for the ‘true’
demographic status of the population. Simulations of the entire Oceania
region showed that the proposed design will give sufficient power to meet
objectives (1) under all scenarios, (2) if the true λ ≥ 1.05 and (3) if the
true λ ≤ 1.05. Region-specific simulations suggested there was scope to
test for differences in recovery between principal breeding sites within

It is available for free download at:

Thank you!
Emma Carroll PhD
Newton International Fellow
Scottish Oceans Institute
University of St Andrews
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