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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 378:245-257 (2009)  -  DOI:

Model-based estimates of right whale habitat use in the Gulf of Maine

Andrew J. Pershing1,2,*, Nicholas R. Record1,2, Bruce C. Monger3, Charles A. Mayo4,  Moira W. Brown4,5, Timothy V. N. Cole6, Robert D. Kenney7, Daniel E. Pendleton1,2,8, Linda A. Woodard9

1School of Marine Science, University of Maine, Orono, Maine 04469, USA
2Gulf of Maine Research Institute, 350 Commercial St., Portland, Maine 04101, USA
3Ocean Resources and Ecosystem Program, Snee Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA
4Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies, 59 Commercial Street, Provincetown, Massachusetts 02657, USA
5New England Aquarium, Central Wharf, Boston, Massachusetts 02110, USA
6National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, 166 Water Street, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA
7Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, Rhode Island 02882, USA
8Department of Natural Resources, Fernow Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA
9Center for Advanced Computing, Frank H. T. Rhodes Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA

ABSTRACT: Balancing human uses of the marine environment with the recovery of protected species requires accurate information on when and where species of interest are likely to be present. Here, we describe a system that can produce useful estimates of right whale Eubalaena glacialis presence and abundance on their feeding grounds in the Gulf of Maine. The foundation of our system is a coupled physical–biological model of the copepod Calanus finmarchicus, the preferred prey of right whales. From the modeled prey densities, we can estimate when whales will appear in the Great South Channel feeding ground. Based on our experience with the system, we consider how the relationship between right whales and copepods changes across spatial scales. The scale-dependent relationship between whales and copepods provides insight into how to improve future estimates of the distribution of right whales and other pelagic predators.

KEY WORDS: Eubalaena glacialis · Calanus finmarchicus · Gulf of Maine · Population dynamics · Model

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Cite this article as: Pershing AJ, Record NR, Monger BC, Mayo CA and others (2009) Model-based estimates of right whale habitat use in the Gulf of Maine. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 378:245-257.

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