[MARMAM] New Paper - Resilience of the endangered sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus to foraging disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico, USA: a bioenergetic approach

Nick Farmer - NOAA Federal nick.farmer at noaa.gov
Thu Mar 15 12:55:15 PDT 2018

Dear colleagues,

My co-authors and I are pleased to announce our new publication:

Farmer NA, Noren DP, Fougères EM, Machernis A, Baker K. Resilience of the
endangered sperm whale *Physeter macrocephalus* to foraging disturbance in
the Gulf of Mexico, USA: a bioenergetic approach. Marine Ecology Progress
Series. 2018 Feb 23;589:241-61.

The endangered sperm whale *Physeter macrocephalus* spends the majority of
its time foraging, relying upon echolocation to locate and consume several
100 kg of prey per day. In the northern Gulf of Mexico, sperm whales are
exposed to a variety of anthropogenic stressors, including ship strikes,
fisheries interactions, habitat loss and degradation due to oil and gas
development, and chemical and noise pollution. In particular, they are
exposed to high levels of anthropogenic noises related to geological and
geophysical surveys for hydrocarbon deposits. The sounds produced by these
surveys could reduce sensory volume, increase search effort required to
locate resources, and interfere with auditory signal processing critical to
foraging success. We developed a stochastic life-stage structured
bioenergetic model to evaluate the consequences of reduced foraging
efficiency on carbohydrate, lipid, and protein reserves in the blubber,
muscle, and viscera. The model indicates that individual resilience to
foraging disruptions is primarily a function of size (i.e. reserve
capacity) and daily energetic demands. Mothers are the most vulnerable life
stage due to the high energy demands associated with pregnancy and
lactation. Continuous disruption has a greater impact than intermittent
disruption; even minor foraging disruptions may lead to terminal starvation
if the whales have no opportunity to replenish reduced reserves.
Infrequent, minor disruptions in foraging are unlikely to be fatal, but may
result in reduced body reserves that may be associated with reduced
reproductive success. Our model provides a bioenergetic framework for
evaluating the level, frequency, and consequences of foraging disruptions
associated with anthropogenic stressors.

If you have access, the paper is available here:

If you do not have access, please let me know if you would like a copy.

Best regards,

*Nicholas A. Farmer, Ph.D.*
Chief, Species Conservation
NOAA Fisheries <http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov>, Southeast Regional Office
<http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/>, 263 13th Ave S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
*727.551.5759 (phone)         **nick.farmer at noaa.gov <nick.farmer at noaa.gov>*
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