[MARMAM] New publication: Multi-regional comparison of scarring and pigmentation patterns in Cuvier's beaked whales

Erin Falcone efalcone at marecotel.org
Wed Apr 27 08:35:41 PDT 2022

On behalf of my co-authors, we are pleased to share our recent publication
in a special edition of Mammalian Biology focused on techniques and methods
of photo-identification:

Coomber, F.G., Falcone, E.A., Keene, E.L., Cárdenas-Hinojosa, G.;
Huerta-Patiño, R.; Rosso, M. Multi-regional comparison of scarring and
pigmentation patterns in Cuvier’s beaked whales. Mamm Biol (2022).


Recent research on Cuvier’s beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris) from the
Mediterranean has demonstrated that sexes can be visibly distinguished in
photos using sex-linked patterns of scarring density and pigmentation, even
at age classes which are notoriously difficult to differentiate. Being able
to apply this research to other populations would allow for better
monitoring of population demographics and vital rates globally. This study
uses Photo Identification Captures (PICs) of known sex, adult Cuvier’s
beaked whales from three regions (Southern California, USA; Guadalupe
Island, Mexico; and the Mediterranean Sea, Italy) to evaluate geographic
variation in sex-linked patterns of scarring density and pigmentation.
Standardized scarring density measurements from typical photo-ID views and
Generalized Linear Models (GLM) were used to identify scarring density
thresholds for sex at each region and for all regions combined to predict
the sex of individuals. Scarring densities did not differ significantly
among regions and thresholds calculated from any region correctly predicted
the sex in other regions 92–98% of the time. An agglomerative cluster
analysis with complete linkage identified three distinct pigmentation
clusters in each of the three regions, with one being indicative of sex.
This study supports the notion that scarring density is indicative of sex
for this species, improves the predictive capacity of this metric
inter-regionally, and provides a reliable method to estimate the sex of
whales in a typical photo-ID catalog, thus supporting vital rate
assessments for this data-deficient species.

The complete manuscript can be viewed at: https://rdcu.be/cLVXZ

Erin A. Falcone, Biologist
Marine Ecology and Telemetry Research
2468 Camp McKenzie Trail NW
Seabeck, WA 98380 USA
360-789-6474 (Mobile)
206-550-9806 (Office)
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