[MARMAM] New killer whale research: North Atlantic killer whale diets revealed in unprecedented detail

Anaïs Remili anaremili at gmail.com
Fri Apr 14 03:00:00 PDT 2023


Dear members of the MARMAM community,


My fifteen co-authors and I are pleased to announce our recent open-access
publication in the Journal of Animal Ecology: *Quantitative fatty acid
signature analysis reveals a high level of dietary specialization in killer
whales across the North Atlantic*. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.13920


You can find a recap of our main findings aimed at the public, as well as
an infographic recap of the paper here:
https://whalescientists.com/killer-whales-north-atlantic-diets/. We also
created a video abstract here: https://youtu.be/qJh-1XRxTq8


Here is the abstract of the paper:

1- Quantifying the diet composition of apex marine predators such as killer
whales (*Orcinus orca*) is critical to assessing their food web impacts.
Yet, with few exceptions, the feeding ecology of these apex predators
remains poorly understood.

2- Here, we use our newly validated quantitative fatty acid signature
analysis (QFASA) approach on nearly 200 killer whales and 900 potential
prey to model their diets across the 5,000 km span of the North Atlantic.

3- Diet estimates show that killer whales mainly consume other whales in
the western North Atlantic (Canadian Arctic, Eastern Canada), seals in the
mid-North Atlantic (Greenland), and fish in the eastern North Atlantic
(Iceland, Faroe Islands, Norway). Nonetheless, diet estimates also varied
widely among individuals within most regions. This level of
inter-individual feeding variation should be considered for future
ecological studies focusing on North Atlantic killer whales.

4- These estimates reveal remarkable population- and individual-level
variation in the trophic ecology of these killer whales, which can help to
assess how their predation impacts community and ecosystem dynamics in
changing North Atlantic marine ecosystems.

5- This new approach provides researchers with an invaluable tool to study
the feeding ecology of oceanic top predators.


Please reach out to me if you have questions/comments. I am also available
to collaborate if you wish to test or validate QFASA on other cetacean
species or other killer whale populations. You can reach me at
anais.remili at mail.mcgill.ca.


Cheers,

Anais Remili,

PhD candidate at McGill University

Editor-in-chief of Whale Scientists
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