[MARMAM] New publication: “Surface behaviors correlate with prey abundance and vessels in an endangered killer whale (Orcinus orca) population” (Christine Bubac, Amy Johnson)

Christine Bubac bubac at ualberta.ca
Thu Dec 31 12:12:31 PST 2020

Dear colleagues,

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

Bubac C.M.*, Johnson A.C.*, and Otis R. 2020. Surface behaviors correlate
with prey abundance and vessels in an endangered killer whale (*Orcinus
orca*) population. Marine Ecology, e12626.
*Authors contributed equally.

Southern Resident killer whales (SRKWs) (*Orcinus orca*) are an endangered
population in the United States and Canada, partly due to declines of their
primary prey species, Chinook salmon. Prey availability influences various
aspects of SRKW behavior, including distribution patterns and social
structure. Yet, it is unclear to what extent a limited prey source
influences the frequency of surface-active behaviors (SABs), behaviors with
important ecological implications. Here, we used long-term datasets
(1996-2019) to examine the relationships between the abundance of Chinook
salmon, vessel presence, and the frequency with which SRKWs perform SABs.
Salmon abundance was a significant predictor of SAB frequency, with fewer
SABs performed in times of lower salmon abundance. SRKWs displayed more
SABs when more whale watching vessels were present, and the whales spent a
greater amount of time in the study area, performing more milling as
opposed to traveling behavior, when vessel numbers were higher. Lastly, we
found pod-specific differences, such that K pod displayed significantly
fewer SABs than either J or L pods.The observed relationships between SRKW
behavior and both salmon abundance and vessel presence have implications
for social network cohesion and foraging success. Our study adds to a
growing body of literature highlighting factors affecting SRKW behavior as
they experience increased threats from decreased prey availability, habitat
loss, and anthropogenic disturbance, with implications for trans-boundary
management and conservation efforts.

The article is available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/maec.12626.
Alternatively, the article is available upon request via email to:
bubac at ualberta.ca or acj1 at ualberta.ca

Kind regards,
Christi Bubac

Christi Bubac
PhD Candidate, Ecology
Dept. of Biological Sciences
University of Alberta
bubac at ualberta.ca
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