Effect of prey type on the fine-scale feeding behaviour of migrating east Australian humpback whales

Owen, Kylie, Warren, Joseph D., Noad, Michael J., Donnelly, David, Goldizen, Anne W. and Dunlop, Rebecca A. (2015) Effect of prey type on the fine-scale feeding behaviour of migrating east Australian humpback whales. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 541 231-244. doi:10.3354/meps11551

Author Owen, Kylie
Warren, Joseph D.
Noad, Michael J.
Donnelly, David
Goldizen, Anne W.
Dunlop, Rebecca A.
Title Effect of prey type on the fine-scale feeding behaviour of migrating east Australian humpback whales
Journal name Marine Ecology Progress Series   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0171-8630
Publication date 2015-12-15
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.3354/meps11551
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 541
Start page 231
End page 244
Total pages 14
Place of publication Oldendorf, Germany
Publisher Inter-Research
Language eng
Formatted abstract
ABSTRACT: For terrestrial migrants, feeding at migratory stopover sites is important, with prey quality linked to future survival and reproductive success. In contrast, the importance of this behaviour to marine species is unknown. The humpback whale Megaptera novaeangliae is a marine migrant that is thought to fast while migrating; however, recent studies suggest that feeding may occur during this time. The aims of this study were to determine how the prey type available on a migratory route off Eden, New South Wales, Australia, influenced whether whales fed or not, and to study the fine-scale behaviour of the whales. Digital acoustic recording tags (DTAGs) and focal follows were used to record whale behaviour. A larger proportion of groups were determined to be feeding when krill was observed at the surface. Whales encountering fish spent a small percentage (28%) of time feeding, behaving similarly to non-feeding whales on migration, with small groups, a higher proportion of males sampled, and relatively straight tracks. In contrast, whales encountering surface swarms of krill spent significantly more time feeding (92%) and behaved similarly to whales on feeding grounds, with larger groups, more females sampled, and tracks with high turning angles. Therefore, changes in the available prey type influenced the amount of time spent feeding and the social dynamics of groups. Given the link between the amount of feeding completed on migration and the future survival and reproductive success of individuals in terrestrial species, the impact of such fluctuations on marine species such as the humpback whale deserves more attention.
Keyword Area-restricted search
Humpback whales
Feeding behaviour
Prey type
Stopover site
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
School of Veterinary Science Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 4 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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