[MARMAM] New publication on gray whale maternal behaviour

burnhamr burnhamr at uvic.ca
Thu Jul 2 13:13:35 PDT 2020

My colleague and I are pleased to announce the publication of a new
paper on the maternal behaviour of gray whales in a foraging area on
Canada's west coast 

Burnham, R.E., Duffus, D.A. Maternal behaviors of gray whales
(_Eschrichtius robustus_) on a summer foraging site 

Mar Mam Sci. 2020;1-19. https://doi.org/10.1111/mms.12710 


The weaning period for gray whale (_Eschrichtius robustus_) calves is
important for maternal instruction and learning. We examined
observational and acoustic data from a foraging site for evidence of
calf development and mother-young information transfer. Site survey data
demonstrated an initial prioritization of calf protection by using
shallow shoreline areas. Foraging in more open water was only noted in
late summer, perhaps an indicator of the maturation of the calf. Other
indicators of development were found in acoustic recordings made over
two summers. Motherese call types have been reported from recordings
made in breeding lagoons, but have not before been described outside of
calving regions. They were present in recordings from this study site,
predominantly in the early summer and not heard past late July. We
suggest vocal repertoire may evolve as the calf ages, and more adult
calling behaviors eventually replace motherese. Long-term mark-recapture
analyses demonstrated a high return of calves to the area to forage in
summers subsequent to weaning, suggesting maternally
inherited prey preference and site use behaviors. From our findings we
suggest a calf's first summer is a highly critical period for
development and may be formative in shaping future behaviors and habitat
use patterns.

The paper can be found here:
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/mms.12710 or email me
for a PDF 


Rianna Burnham, PhD
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