[MARMAM] New Publication MARMAM Posting

Taylor Azizeh taylorazizeh at gmail.com
Sun Jun 27 22:47:58 PDT 2021

Dear MARMAM colleagues,

My co-authors and I are pleased to announce the recent publication of a new
paper in Marine Ecology Progress Series:

Azizeh, T.R., Sprogis, K., Soley, R., Nielsen, M.L.K, Uhart, M., Sironi,
M., Marón, C.F., Bejder, L., Madsen, P.T., and F. Christiansen. (2021).
Acute and chronic behavioral effects of kelp gull micropredation of
southern right whale mother-calf pairs off Península Valdés, Argentina.
Marine Ecology Progress Series 668, 133-148.


Kelp gulls *Larus dominicanus* (KG) feed on the skin and blubber of living
southern right whales *Eubalaena australis* (SRWs) off Península Valdés
(PV), Argentina. The whales respond strongly to KG micropredation by
changing their immediate (acute) behavior during attacks and their overall
(chronic) surfacing pattern and body posture to minimize gull exposure. The
energetic and large-scale behavioral consequences of these attacks are
unknown. To address this knowledge gap, we quantified the effect size of
both acute (during attacks) and chronic (not during attacks) responses by
comparing the respiration rates, swim speed, and nursing behavior of PV
SRWs to undisturbed (control) SRW mother-calf pairs in Head of Bight,
Australia, using unmanned aerial vehicle focal follows. Even when gulls
were not attacking, PV SRW mothers and calves demonstrated ~50 and ~25%
higher respiration rates, respectively, than whales in Australia. During
attacks, PV calf respiration rates increased by an additional 10%. PV SRW
mothers also frequently (>76% of respirations) exhibited irregular
breathing postures, causing the whales to potentially expend extra energy
by working against their natural buoyancy. Despite no significant increase
in average maternal swim speed, 76 and 90% of gull attacks elicited strong
behavioral reactions from mothers and calves, respectively. Overall, PV
calves spent less time nursing during individual bouts compared to those in
Australia but entered suckling position more frequently. Furthermore, kelp
gulls seemed to show a preference for attacking previously wounded calves
and at a higher rate. These chronic and acute behavioral effects may carry
energetic costs, which could have long-term consequences for SRW survival
and reproduction.

You can access the full article here:

Best regards,

Taylor Azizeh
Graduate Student, Vertebrate Ecology Lab
Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, Moss Landing, California
taylorazizeh at gmail.com
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