Measuring natural behavior in migrating humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae)

Kavanagh, Ailbhe S., Dunlop, Rebecca A., Goldizen, Anne W. and Noad, Michael J. (2011). Measuring natural behavior in migrating humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). In: 19th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Tampa, FL, United States, (). 27 November - 2 December 2011.

Author Kavanagh, Ailbhe S.
Dunlop, Rebecca A.
Goldizen, Anne W.
Noad, Michael J.
Title of paper Measuring natural behavior in migrating humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae)
Formatted title
Measuring natural behavior in migrating humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae)
Conference name 19th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals
Conference location Tampa, FL, United States
Conference dates 27 November - 2 December 2011
Publication Year 2011
Sub-type Poster
Language eng
Formatted Abstract/Summary
Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) behavior studies have examined the response of whales to anthropogenic disturbances such as vessel traffic and noise, whale-watching activities, seismic surveys and sonar. However, to understand the effects of anthropogenic disturbances on humpback whales, beyond just detecting a change in behavior, a fundamental understanding of ‘natural’ undisturbed behavior is necessary. Few studies have focused on this alone and such background information is critical to understanding both the context and the biological significance of any responses observed. To date humpback whale researchers have used a wide variety of variables to examine behavior and behavioral responses to disturbance. The use of such a broad range of variables can result in studies that are not readily comparable. There is a clear need for a more consistent and replicable methodology for the examination of humpback whale behavior. In this study we describe a comprehensive behavioral ethogram and a methodology for the categorization and quantitative measurement of humpback whale migratory behavior. To evaluate and critically assess this methodology, we use a combination of broad and fine-scale behavior and acoustic data collected from migrating humpback whales off the east coast of Australia. Our study site and experimental set-up provides a unique opportunity to explore both the environmental and social drivers of natural humpback whale behavior, factors which are not often accounted for in other studies. Preliminary analysis of respiration rates, surfacing and diving times, speed and course changes and behavior rates indicates that the composition of focal groups as well as their social environment, including the proximity and vocalizations of conspecifics, plays an important role in the behavior of migrating humpback whales.
Q-Index Code EX
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Conference Paper
Collection: School of Veterinary Science Publications
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Created: Mon, 20 Feb 2012, 15:27:31 EST by Dr Rebecca Dunlop on behalf of School of Veterinary Science