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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Striped dolphins Stenella coeruleoalba swimming amidst oil on the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Photo credit: P.J. Edmunds

Marques TA, Thomas L, Booth C, Garrison L, Rosel PE, Takeshita R, Mullin KD, Schwacke L

Population consequences of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on pelagic cetaceans

A population dynamics model, originally developed for estuarine common bottlenose dolphins, was extended to most pelagic cetacean species in the Gulf of Mexico, scaling survival and fecundity parameters across species via gestation duration. Some of the unknown parameters for the model were obtained via dedicated expert elicitation exercises. By comparing population projections under both oil and no-oil spill scenarios, Marques and colleagues report on several injury metrics representing population level measures of impact. Uncertainty in the population model parameters was propagated to the injury metrics via Monte Carlo simulation. The approach is modular and fully reproducible should new information become available, and could be extended to other scenarios for which catastrophic anthropogenic impacts must be evaluated but robust baseline information is scarce.


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