[MARMAM] New publication: Ecological interactions between Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) and baleen whales in the South Sandwich Islands region

Mick Baines mickbaines at wildscope.com
Mon Sep 5 07:21:42 PDT 2022

Dear MARMAM list subscribers,

Together with my co-authors, we are pleased to announce the following new
publication in Deep Sea Research Part 1:

*Ecological interactions between Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) and
baleen whales in the South Sandwich Islands region – Exploring
predator-prey biomass ratios.*


Mick Baines, Jennifer Jackson, Sophie Fielding, Vicky Warwick-Evans, Maren
Reichelt, Claire Lacey, Simon Pinder and Phil Trathan.


Following the cessation of whaling, the southwest Atlantic humpback
whale (*Megaptera
novaeangliae*) population is thought to be close to pre-exploitation size,
reversing 20th century changes in abundance. Using a model-based approach
applied to concurrently collected data on baleen whale abundance and
Antarctic krill (*Euphausia superba*) biomass in the South Sandwich Islands
(SSI) region, we explore ecological interactions between these taxa. Krill
biomass and baleen whale density were highest to the north and northeast of
the SSI, where the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) is deflected around
the island chain. Humpback whale density was elevated at locations of krill
biomass density >150 gm-2. Krill consumption by baleen whales was estimated
at 19–29% of the available krill standing stock. We used historic whaling
data to confirm the plausibility of these consumption rates and found
evidence of rapid weight gain in humpback whales, such that blubber
depleted during the breeding season could be restored in a much shorter
period than previously assumed. Little is known about krill replenishment
rates in the flow of the ACC, or about niche separation between recovering
baleen whale populations; both factors may affect species carrying
capacities and further monitoring will be required to inform the management
of human activities in the region.

The paper is published as an open source article, currently available as a
journal pre-proof through the following doi :

Mick Baines
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