[MARMAM] New paper on beluga whale blubber stores in Bristol Bay, Alaska

Leslie Cornick lcornick at alaskapacific.edu
Tue Apr 26 15:17:31 PDT 2016


Good morning!

My co-authors and I are pleased to announce the publication of Seasonal and developmental differences in blubber stores in beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) in Bristol Bay, Alaska using high-resolution ultrasound.

Full citation: Leslie A. Cornick,* Lori T. Quakenbush, Stephanie A. Norman, Coral Pasi, Pamela Maslyk,
Kat hy A. Burek, Caroline E. C. Goertz, and Roderick C. Hobbs. 2016. Seasonal and developmental differences in blubber stores in beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) in Bristol Bay, Alaska using high-resolution ultrasound. Journal of Mammalogy. DOI:10.1093/jmammal/gyw074

Abstract:  Diving mammals use blubber for a variety of structural and physiological functions, including buoyancy,
streamlining, thermoregulation, and energy storage. Estimating blubber stores provides proxies for body condition,
nutritional status, and health. Blubber stores may vary topographically within individuals, across seasons, and
with age, sex, and reproductive status; therefore, a single full-depth blubber biopsy does not provide an accurate
measure of blubber depth, and additional biopsies are limited because they result in open wounds. We examined
high-resolution ultrasound as a noninvasive method for assessing blubber stores by sampling blubber depth at
11 locations on beluga whales in Alaska. Blubber mass was estimated as a proportion of body mass (40% from
the literature) and compared to a function of volume calculated using ultrasound blubber depth measurements
in a truncated cone. Blubber volume was converted to total and mass-specific blubber mass estimates based on
the density of beluga blubber. There was no significant difference in mean total blubber mass between the 2
estimates (R2  = 0.88); however, body mass alone predicted only 68% of the variation in mass-specific blubber
stores in juveniles, 7% for adults in the fall, and 33% for adults in the spring. Mass-specific blubber stores
calculated from ultrasound measurements were highly variable. Adults had significantly greater blubber stores in
the fall (0.48 Å} 0.02 kg/kgMB ) than in the spring (0.33 Å} 0.02 kg/kgMB ). There was no seasonal effect in juveniles.
High-resolution ultrasound is a more powerful, noninvasive method for assessing blubber stores in wild belugas,
allowing for precise measurements at multiple locations.

The open access link can be found here: http://jmammal.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/04/23/jmammal.gyw074.full?ijkey=e0BE3cYkmrZ7A1e&keytype=ref

PDFs also available upon request to lcornick at alaskapacific.edu<mailto:lcornick at alaskapacific.edu>

Cheers,
Leslie

********************************************
Leslie A. Cornick, Ph.D.
Department Chair, Environmental Science
Director, Marine Physiological Ecology Laboratory
Director, Scientific Marine Mammal Monitoring Program
Professor, Marine Biology and Policy
Alaska Pacific University
lcornick at alaskapacific.edu<mailto:lcornick at alaskapacific.edu>
907.564.8885

The most important thing we extract from the ocean is our existence.  ~Sylvia Earle





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