[MARMAM] New publication: Strontium as a potential tracer for mysticetes movements and habitat use

Morgana Vighi morgana.vighi at gmail.com
Wed Sep 26 10:59:01 PDT 2018

 Dear MARMAMers,

We are pleased to announce that the following paper on the potential use of
Sr as a tracer for whale migrations has been published online:

Morgana Vighi, A. Borrell, G. Víkingsson, Th. Gunnlaugsson and A. Aguilar
(2019). Strontium in fin whale baleen: A potential tracer of mysticete
movements across the oceans?

Strontium is a metal broadly distributed in oceanic waters, where its
concentrations follow gradients mainly driven by oceanographic and
biological factors. Studies on terrestrial vertebrates show that Sr can
accumulate in mammalian hair in amounts mainly related to the external
environment, a property that has been scarcely investigated inaquatic
mammals. Cetaceans are marine mammals whose skin is generally hairless, but
the species belonging to the mysticete group feed through a filtering
apparatus made of keratinous baleen plates that, like hair, grow
continuously. During their annual latitudinal migrations, mysticetes cross
water masses with variable chemo-physical characteristics that may be
reflected in these tissues. In the present study, baleen plates were
sampled from 10 fin whales obtained from NW Spain (N = 5) and SW Iceland
(N = 5) to investigate Sr concentrations along the plates growth axis.
Samples were taken longitudinally at regular 1 cm-intervals on each plate.
Sr concentrations, determined through mass spectrometry, ranged from 5 to
40 mg kg−1and increased from proximal to distal positions along plates.
These results suggest a progressive adsorption of Sr on the plate surface,
a process that also occurs in mammalian hair. Increasing trends were
similar in the two regions but overall concentrations were significantly
higher in NW Spain, reflecting different Sr baseline concentrations in the
two areas and indicating isolation between the two whale populations. Some
oscillations in Sr longitudinal trends were also detected, likely
indicating that whales migrate across water masses with different Sr
baselines. These results suggest that Sr concentrations in keratinous
tissues of marine mammals can be used as ecological tracers of their
migrations and habitat use.

Free access to the article will be available until November 2, 2018, via
the following link:


For any questions do not hesitate to contact me at: morgana.vighi at gmail.com

Best regards,

Morgana Vighi

Morgana Vighi, PhD

Departament de Biologia Evolutiva, Ecologia i Ciències Ambientals
University of Barcelona
Av. Diagonal 643, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
+34 633656763
+39 3388269806
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