[MARMAM] Environmental drivers of Southern Ocean humpback whale feeding behaviour

Rochelle Constantine r.constantine at auckland.ac.nz
Fri May 31 20:45:33 PDT 2019

We have recently published the following paper:

Riekkola L, Andrews-Goff V, Friedlaender A, Constantine R, and Zerbini AN. 2019. Environmental drivers of humpback whale foraging behaviour in the remote Southern Ocean. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 517:1-12

There is 50 days of free access to the article using this link (yep free!):

Happy reading & let us know if you have any questions (r.constantine at auckland.ac.nz)

Satellite telemetry and animal movement models advance our ability to remotely monitor the behavior of wide-ranging species. Understanding how different behaviors (e.g. foraging) are shaped by dynamic environmental features is fundamental to understanding ecological interactions and the impact of variability. In this study we deployed satellite-linked tags on humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) and used state-space models to estimate locations and to infer underlying behavioral states. We then modelled the association between whale behavior (e.g. foraging or transiting) and environmental variables using linear mixed-effect models. We identified the importance of two recently discovered Southern Ocean feeding areas for Oceania humpback whales as well as the key environmental drivers affecting whale behavior. We detected behavioral differences between whales utilizing the two adjacent feeding regions (~2000 km apart), which were likely caused by animals trying to efficien!
 tly locate prey in relation to the dynamic environmental characteristics of each habitat. We observed a seasonal pattern in foraging behavior, with the peak occurring in the middle of summer. Whales also foraged more intensively with increasing proximity to areas from which the ice edge had recently retreated, suggesting heightened productivity in these areas. The relationship between the animals and the physical features of the seascape, as well as the behavioral plasticity observed, could have implications for the future recovery of these whales in a changing Southern Ocean.

Rochelle Constantine, PhD
School of Biological Sciences | Te Kura Matauranga Koiora
University of Auckland | Te Whare Wananga o Tamaki Makaurau
Private Bag 92019
New Zealand | Aotearoa

P: +64 09 923 5093
M: 0274 574 909

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