[MARMAM] Publication on bottlenose dolphin prey availability and calorific value

Shannon McCluskey shazzamcc at gmail.com
Mon Apr 4 16:41:09 PDT 2016

Dear Colleagues,

My co-authors and I are pleased to announce the recent publication of our
paper titled "Dolphin Prey Availability and Calorific Value in an Estuarine
and Coastal Environment".

The paper is available for download FREE from Frontiers in Marine Science:


You can also find a link to the article and more information about the
Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit by going here:


You may also contact me directly with any queries. The abstract is below.

Shannon McCluskey

Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit
School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Murdoch University
Perth, Western Australia


Prey density has long been associated with prey profitability for a
predator, but prey quality has seldom been quantified. We assessed the
potential prey availability and calorific value for Indo-Pacific bottlenose
dolphins (*Tursiops aduncus*) in an estuarine and coastal environment of
temperate south-western Australia. Fish were sampled using three methods
(21.5 m beach seine, multi-mesh gillnet, and fish traps), across three
regions (Estuary, Bay, and Ocean) in the study area. The total biomass and
numbers of all species and those of potential dolphin prey were determined
in austral summers and winters between 2007 and 2010. The calorific value
of 19 species was determined by bomb calorimetry. The aim of the research
was to evaluate the significance of prey availability in explaining the
higher abundance of dolphins in the region in summer vs. winter across
years. A higher abundance of prey was captured in the summer (mean of two
summer seasons 12,080 ± 160) than in the winter (mean of two winter seasons
= 7358 ± 343) using the same number of gear sets in each season and year.
In contrast, higher biomass and higher energy rich prey were captured
during winters than during summers, when fewer dolphins are present in the
area. Variability was significant between season and region for the gillnet
(*p* < 0.01), and seine (*p* < 0.01). The interaction of season and region
was also significant for the calorific content captured by the traps (*p* <
0.03), and between the seasons for biomass of the trap catch (*p* < 0.02).
The dolphin mother and calf pairs that remain in the Estuary and Bay year
round may be sustained by the higher quality, and generally larger, if
lesser abundant, prey in the winter months. Furthermore, factors such as
predator avoidance and mating opportunities are likely to influence
patterns of local dolphin abundance. This study provides insights into the
complex dynamics of predator—prey interactions, and highlights the
importance for a better understanding of prey abundance, distribution and
calorific content in explaining the spatial ecology of large apex predators.
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