[MARMAM] New Publication: "Exploring variability in the diet of depredating sperm whales in the Gulf of Alaska through stable isotope analysis."

Lauren Wild lauren.a.wild at gmail.com
Sat Mar 14 18:52:16 PDT 2020

Dear colleagues,
The following paper was recently published in Royal Society Open Science:

Wild L.A., Mueter F.J., Witteveen B., Straley J.M. 2020. Exploring
variability in the diet of depredating sperm whales in the Gulf of Alaska
through stable isotope analysis. Royal Society open science 7: 191110.

Sperm whales interact with commercially important groundfish fisheries
offshore in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This study aims to use stable isotope
analysis to better understand the trophic variability of sperm whales and
their potential prey, and to use dietary mixing models to estimate the
importance of prey species to sperm whale diets. We analysed tissue samples
from sperm whales and seven potential prey (five groundfish and two squid
species). Samples were analysed for stable carbon and nitrogen isotope
ratios, and diet composition was estimated using Bayesian isotopic mixing
models. Mixing model results suggest that an isotopically combined
sablefish/dogfish group, skates and rockfish make up the largest proportion
of sperm whale diets (35%, 28% and 12%) in the GOA. The top prey items of
whales that interact more frequently with fishing vessels consisted of
skates (49%) and the sablefish/dogfish group (24%). This is the first known
study to provide an isotopic baseline of adult male sperm whales and these
adult groundfish and offshore squid species, and to assign contributions of
prey to whale diets in the GOA. This study provides information to
commercial fishermen and fisheries managers to better understand
trophic connections
of important commercial species.

The paper is available freely to download at:

Please contact with any questions:
lauren.a.wild at gmail.com

Lauren Wild
PhD  - Fisheries
University of Alaska Fairbanks
College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences

lauren.a.wild at gmail.com
(907)747-7789 - office
(907)738-5315 - cell
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