[MARMAM] New publication: Composition of cetacean communities worldwide shapes their contribution to ocean nutrient cycling (Lola Gilbert)

lola.gilbert at lilo.org lola.gilbert at lilo.org
Sun Oct 1 00:29:27 PDT 2023

Dear Marman community, 

On the behalf of my co-authors, I am pleased to share our article recently published in Nature Communications: 

Gilbert, L., Jeanniard-du-Dot, T., Authier, M. et al. Composition of cetacean communities worldwide shapes their contribution to ocean nutrient cycling. Nat Commun 14, 5823 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-41532-y

The article is available in open access here https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-023-41532-y.pdf

Abstract: Defecation by large whales is known to fertilise oceans with nutrients, stimulating phytoplankton and ecosystem productivity. However, our current understanding of these processes is limited to a few species, nutrients and ecosystems. Here, we investigate the role of cetacean communities in the worldwide biological cycling of two major nutrients and six trace nutrients. We show that cetaceans release more nutrients in mesotrophic to eutrophic temperate waters than in oligotrophic tropical waters, mirroring patterns of ecosystem productivity. The released nutrient cocktails also vary geographically, driven by the composition of cetacean communities. The roles of small cetaceans, deep diving cetaceans and baleen whales differ quantitatively and functionally, with contributions of small cetaceans and deep divers exceeding those of large whales in some areas. The functional diversity of cetacean communities expands beyond their role as top predators to include their role as active nutrient vectors, which might be equally important to local ecosystem dynamics.

Please feel free to reach out with any questions. 


Lola Gilbert 

lola.gilbert at univ-lr.fr

PhD candidate at the Centre for Biological Studies of Chizé-La Rochelle 

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