[MARMAM] New paper: Southern right whale calves allosuckling

Kate Sprogis kate.sprogis at uwa.edu.au
Thu Jan 18 17:28:21 PST 2024

Dear Colleagues,

The scientific article "Allosuckling in southern right whale calves" is published in Mammalian Biology.

Free download: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s42991-023-00392-1#citeas

Authors: Kate R. Sprogis and Fredrik Christiansen.

Abstract: Allosuckling, the suckling of milk from a non-biological mother, occurs in some species of mammals. Allosuckling has not been quantified in baleen whale calves, therefore, we examine allosuckling in southern right whales (SRWs; Eubalaena australis) off Australia. SRWs are listed as Endangered under the Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act as their numbers remain below the estimated historical abundance. On a small aggregation area, where there were three mother-calf pairs present, we aimed to quantify the proportion of time that calves allosuckled relative to the time spent filial suckling. To achieve this, we conducted unmanned aerial vehicle focal follows on mother-calf pairs and video recorded all interactions among pairs (n = 22 interactions, 3 h total observation time). During interactions, allosuckling occurred in seven interactions, and filial nursing occurred in 11 interactions. One of the calves performed allosuckling, and it was the largest calf with the largest mother. The calf allosuckled from both of the non-biological mothers present. The average proportion of time allosuckling per interaction was 4% (95% CI = ± 0.01, range = 0-0.25), while filial nursing for the same calf was 8% (95% CI = ± 0.02, range = 0-0.37). It is important to understand the frequency of allosuckling, in order to quantify the energetic benefits for allosuckling calves and the energetic cost incurred by targeted non-biological mothers. This is particularly pertinent for capital breeders who do not replenish lost energy reserves until they migrate to their feeding grounds.

Citation: Sprogis, K. R., and F. Christiansen. 2024. Allosuckling in southern right whale calves. Mammalian Biology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42991-023-00392-1

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Kind regards,

Kate Sprogis, PhD
Research Fellow
UWA Oceans Institute and School of Biological Sciences
The University of Western Australia
Albany campus, Western Australia
@KateSprogis  *  kate.sprogis at uwa.edu.au

Recent publications:

  *   Christiansen F, Sprogis KR, Nielsen MLK, Glarou M, Bejder L (2023) Energy expenditure of southern right whales varies with body size, reproductive state and activity level. J Exp Biol. doi: 10.1242/jeb.245137<https://journals.biologists.com/jeb/article/226/13/jeb245137/322683/Energy-expenditure-of-southern-right-whales-varies>
  *   Sprogis, K. R., D. Holman, P. Arranz, and F. Christiansen. 2023. Effects of whale-watching activities on southern right whales in Encounter Bay, South Australia. Marine Policy. 150:105525. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2023.105525

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