[MARMAM] New paper on bowhead whale gestation

Nadine Lysiak nadinelysiak at gmail.com
Mon Jul 31 17:41:39 PDT 2023

Dear colleagues,

On behalf of my co-authors, I am pleased to share our new publication: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsos.230365 

N.S.J. Lysiak, S.H. Ferguson, C.A. Hornby, M.P. Heidi-Jørgensen, and C.J.D. Matthews. 2023. Prolonged baleen hormone cycles suggest atypical reproductive endocrinology of female bowhead whales. Royal Society Open Science,10: 230365.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.230365 

Abstract: Serial measurements of hormone concentrations along baleen plates allow for reconstructions of mysticete whale reproductive histories. We assessed gestation and calving interval in bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) by measuring progesterone, oestradiol, corticosterone and nitrogen stable isotope ratios (δ15N) along baleen of 10 females from the eastern Canada-west Greenland population. Three immature females (body size < 14.32 m) had uniformly low progesterone concentrations across their baleen, while seven mature females (body size ≥ 14.35 m) had repeated, sustained elevations of progesterone indicative of pregnancies. The mean duration of progesterone elevations (23.6 ± 1.50 months) was considerably longer than the approximately 14 month gestation previously estimated for this species. We consider several possible explanations for this observation, including delayed implantation or sequential ovulations prior to gestation, strategies that would allow females to maximize their fitness in variable Arctic conditions, as well as suggest modified criteria defining gestation as a shorter component of the entire progesterone peak. Calving intervals varied within and among individuals (mean = 3.7 years; range = range 2.8–5.7 years), providing population-specific reproductive estimates for growth models used in bowhead whale management and conservation.

Please email me nadine.lysiak at gmail.com <mailto:nadine.lysiak at gmail.com> if you have any questions.

Best wishes,
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