[MARMAM] New paper reconstructing cephalopod prey communities of cetacean deep divers - Cuvier's beaked whale and Risso's dolphin

fvisser at kelpmarineresearch.com fvisser at kelpmarineresearch.com
Tue Apr 6 01:24:26 PDT 2021

Dear Marmam,

My co-authors and I are happy to announce the publication of our paper:

Deep-sea predator niche segregation revealed by combined cetacean 
biologging and eDNA analysis of cephalopod prey, in Science Advances.

Link (open access):

We combined Dtag data with eDNA analysis of cephalopods in the whale 
foraging zones and find that, while the Risso's dolphin and Cuviers 
beaked whale have discrete foraging zones, they target comparable prey 
communities. As many squid migrate to deeper waters as they mature, 
Cuvier's beaked whales may thus target similar prey species, but have 
access to larger, more mature and possibly brooding individuals, than 
Risso's dolphins.

Fundamental insight on predator-prey dynamics in the deep sea is 
hampered by a lack of combined data on hunting behavior and prey 
spectra. Deep-sea niche segregation may evolve when predators target 
specific prey communities, but this hypothesis remains untested. We 
combined environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding with biologging to 
assess cephalopod community composition in the deep-sea foraging habitat 
of two top predator cetaceans. Risso’s dolphin and Cuvier’s beaked whale 
selectively targeted distinct epi/meso- and bathypelagic foraging zones, 
holding eDNA of 39 cephalopod taxa, including 22 known prey. Contrary to 
expectation, extensive taxonomic overlap in prey spectra between 
foraging zones indicated that predator niche segregation was not driven 
by prey community composition alone. Instead, intraspecific prey 
spectrum differences may drive differentiation for hunting fewer, more 
calorific, mature cephalopods in deeper waters. The novel combination of 
methods presented here holds great promise to disclose elusive deep-sea 
predator-prey systems, aiding in their protection.

All the best,


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