Monster Seminar JAM - Foraging ecology of bowhead whales in West Greenland
Dr. Kristin Laidre, Polar Science Center, University of Washington
A fundamental concept in marine ecology is that the fitness of a predator depends on the spatial and temporal synchrony with the production of its prey. This is especially true in seasonal polar environments, where predictable changes in temperature and solar radiation only allow for short production periods. Recent surveys suggest 1229 (95% CI: 4952939) bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) occupy the waters of Disko Bay, West Greenland between March and May each year. Since 2000, an ongoing foraging ecology study has collected data on movements and diving behavior of these whales using satellite-linked time depth recorders, archival Time-Depth recorders and Time-Depth-Fluorescence recorders, providing detailed information on movements, area use, dive depth, water column fluorescence, and water temperature during the spring feeding period. Simultaneous data have been collected on benthic and pelagic zooplankton density, taxa, and biomass using plankton net hauls and an epibenthic sledge at standard stations throughout the bay where bowheads are feeding. These data have been used to characterize the horizontal and vertical structure of the prey base for bowheads and examine the spatial and temporal coupling between bowheads and zooplankton. The food web in the West Greenland ecosystem is short and offers ample opportunities for understanding cetacean trophic cascades and ocean energy transfer. This talk will present results from an ongoing study of bowhead whale foraging ecology in this system.
Date and Time:
January 22, 2009,
11:00 am - 12:00 pm