ESR 18:147-161 (2012)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00433

Weekly predictions of North Atlantic right whale Eubalaena glacialis habitat reveal influence of prey abundance and seasonality of habitat preferences

Daniel E. Pendleton1,9,*, Patrick J. Sullivan1, Moira W. Brown2,9, Timothy V. N. Cole3, Caroline P. Good4, Charles A. Mayo2, Bruce C. Monger5, Steven Phillips6, Nicholas R. Record7,8, Andrew J. Pershing7,8 

1Department of Natural Resources, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA
2Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies, 5 Holway St., Provincetown, Massachusetts 02657, USA
3National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA
4Duke University Marine Lab, Beaufort, North Carolina 28516, USA
5Ocean Resources and Ecosystem Program, Snee Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA
6AT&T Labs-Research, Florham Park, New Jersey 07932, USA
7School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, Maine 04469, USA
8Gulf of Maine Research Institute, 350 Commercial St., Portland, Maine 04101, USA
9Present address: New England Aquarium, Central Wharf, Boston, Massachusetts 02110, USA

ABSTRACT: Primary sources of mortality and serious injury to endangered North Atlantic right whales Eubalaena glacialis are vessel strikes and entanglement in fishing gear. All management plans depend on knowing when and where right whales are likely to be present. We tested the feasibility of a system designed to predict potential right whale habitat on a weekly time scale. The system paired right whale occurrence records with a collection of data layers including: results from a coupled biological−physical model of Calanus finmarchicus (the primary prey of right whales), satellite-derived sea surface temperature and chlorophyll, and bathymetry. Using these data, we trained seasonal habitat models and projected them onto environmental data for each 8 d period from January to June, 2002 to 2006. Two hypotheses were tested: (1) that right whale environmental preferences change from season to season and (2) that modeled prey concentration is an important predictor of the distribution of right whales. To test H1, we trained, tested, and compared models for 3 time periods: winter, spring, and winter and spring combined. To test H2, we trained and tested models with and without C. finmarchicus. Predictions of habitat suitability were highly dynamic within and across years. Our results support the hypothesis that right whale environmental preferences change between winter and spring. The inclusion of modeled C. finmarchicus abundance improved the accuracy of habitat suitability predictions.


KEY WORDS: Right whale · Eubalaena glacialis · Calanus finmarchicus · Species distribution model · Gulf of Maine · Transferability


Full text in pdf format  
Cite this article as: Pendleton DE, Sullivan PJ, Brown MW, Cole TVN and others (2012) Weekly predictions of North Atlantic right whale Eubalaena glacialis habitat reveal influence of prey abundance and seasonality of habitat preferences. Endang Species Res 18:147-161. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00433

Export citation
Mail this link - Contents Mailing Lists - RSS
- -