[MARMAM] New publication on key questions in marine mammal bioenergetics

Elizabeth A McHuron emchuron at uw.edu
Fri Aug 26 16:35:46 PDT 2022

Dear colleagues,

My coauthors and I are excited to announce the publication of our new paper
in Conservation Physiology, outlining 11 key unanswered questions in marine
mammal bioenergetics. We also discuss existing tools to address these key
questions, and highlight particular areas where development of new
methodologies are needed. The impetus for this effort was to provide a
guiding framework to set research priorities that would help increase the
utility of bioenergetic approaches for addressing management and
conservation of marine mammals.

The abstract is pasted below and the paper can be found at
https://doi.org/10.1093/conphys/coac055 (it is open access). Many thanks to
all of the people who participated in this exercise and made this
publication possible.

Please don't hesitate to reach out with questions (emchuron at uw.edu).


Liz McHuron


Bioenergetic approaches are increasingly used to understand how marine
mammal populations could be affected by a changing and disturbed aquatic
environment. There remain considerable gaps in our knowledge of marine
mammal bioenergetics, which hinder the application of bioenergetic studies
to inform policy decisions. We conducted a priority-setting exercise to
identify high-priority unanswered questions in marine mammal bioenergetics,
with an emphasis on questions relevant to conservation and management.
Electronic communication and a virtual workshop were used to solicit and
collate potential research questions from the marine mammal bioenergetic
community. From a final list of 39 questions, 11 were identified as ‘key’
questions because they received votes from at least 50% of survey
participants. Key questions included those related to energy intake (prey
landscapes, exposure to human activities) and expenditure (field metabolic
rate, exposure to human activities, lactation, time-activity budgets),
energy allocation priorities, metrics of body condition and relationships
with survival and reproductive success and extrapolation of data from one
species to another. Existing tools to address key questions include
labelled water, animal-borne sensors, mark-resight data from long-term
research programs, environmental DNA and unmanned vehicles. Further
validation of existing approaches and development of new methodologies are
needed to comprehensively address some key questions, particularly for
cetaceans. The identification of these key questions can provide a guiding
framework to set research priorities, which ultimately may yield more
accurate information to inform policies and better conserve marine mammal

Elizabeth McHuron, PhD
Research Scientist, UW CICOES
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