[MARMAM] New study investigating the movements of killer whales in Iceland

Filipa Samarra fipsamarra at gmail.com
Mon Jul 10 04:34:48 PDT 2017

Dear colleagues,

We are happy to announce the publication of the following paper in 
Marine Biology:

Movements and site fidelity of killer whales (/Orcinus orca/) relative 
to seasonal and long-term shifts in herring (/Clupea harengus/) distribution
Filipa I. P. Samarra, S. B. Tavares, J. Béesau, V. B. Deecke, A. 
Fennell, P. J. O. Miller, H. Pétursson, J Sigurjónsson and G. A. Víkingsson
Marine Biology 164: 159

The paper is available online at 
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00227-017-3187-9 or you can 
contact me at fipsamarra at gmail.com <mailto:fipsamarra at gmail.com> for a 
reprint or if you have any questions.

This study is part of the Icelandic Orca Project, a long-term research 
project dedicated to the study of killer whales in Iceland. You can find 
out more about the project on www.icelandic-orcas.com 

Predators specialising on migratory prey that frequently change 
migration route face the challenge of finding prey with an unpredictable 
distribution. Here, we used photo-identification data to investigate 
whether killer whales observed in herring overwintering and spawning 
grounds off Iceland follow herring year-round, as previously proposed, 
and have the ability to adapt to long-term changes in herring 
distribution. Of 327 identified whales seen more than once, 45% were 
seen in both grounds, and were thus presumed herring-specialists, likely 
following herring year-round, while others were only seen on one of the 
grounds, possibly following herring to unsampled grounds or moving to 
other locations and exploiting different prey. High seasonal site 
fidelity to herring grounds, long-term site fidelity to herring spawning 
grounds, and matches of individual whales between past and recently 
occupied herring overwintering grounds showed an ability to adapt to 
long-term changes in prey distribution as well as diversity of movement 
patterns which are maintained over time, likely as socially-learnt 
traditions. Such population structuring shows that the movement patterns 
and foraging ecology of herring-eating killer whales are more complex 
than previously assumed and must be taken into account in future 
population assessments. Identifying the factors driving these 
differences in movements and resource use will be relevant towards our 
understanding of how prey predictability may drive specialization in 
this and other top predator species.

Best regards,


Filipa Samarra
Postdoctoral Researcher
Marine and Freshwater Research Institute
Skúlagata 4
121 Reykjavík, Iceland
Tel: +354-5752082

ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Filipa_Samarra

Follow us on: www.facebook.com/icelandic.orcas
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