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Long-term decline in survival and reproduction of dolphins following a marine heatwave


Wild, Sonja; Krützen, Michael; Rankin, Robert W; Hoppitt, William J E; Gerber, Livia; Allen, Simon J (2019). Long-term decline in survival and reproduction of dolphins following a marine heatwave. Current Biology, 29(7):R239-R240.

Abstract

One of many challenges in the conservation of biodiversity is the recent trend in the frequency and intensity of extreme climatic events [1]. The Shark Bay World Heritage Area, Western Australia, endured an unprecedented marine heatwave in 2011. Catastrophic losses of habitat-forming seagrass meadows followed [2], along with mass mortalities of invertebrate and fish communities [3]. Our long-term demographic data on Shark Bay’s resident Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) population revealed a significant decline in female reproductive rates following the heatwave. Moreover, capture–recapture analyses indicated 5.9% and 12.2% post-heatwave declines in the survival of dolphins that use tools to forage and those that do not, respectively. This implies that the tool-using dolphins may have been somewhat buffered against the cascading effects of habitat loss following the heatwave by having access to a less severely affected foraging niche [4]. Overall, however, lower survival has persisted post-heatwave, suggesting that habitat loss following extreme weather events may have prolonged, negative impacts on even behaviourally flexible, higher-trophic level predators.

Abstract

One of many challenges in the conservation of biodiversity is the recent trend in the frequency and intensity of extreme climatic events [1]. The Shark Bay World Heritage Area, Western Australia, endured an unprecedented marine heatwave in 2011. Catastrophic losses of habitat-forming seagrass meadows followed [2], along with mass mortalities of invertebrate and fish communities [3]. Our long-term demographic data on Shark Bay’s resident Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) population revealed a significant decline in female reproductive rates following the heatwave. Moreover, capture–recapture analyses indicated 5.9% and 12.2% post-heatwave declines in the survival of dolphins that use tools to forage and those that do not, respectively. This implies that the tool-using dolphins may have been somewhat buffered against the cascading effects of habitat loss following the heatwave by having access to a less severely affected foraging niche [4]. Overall, however, lower survival has persisted post-heatwave, suggesting that habitat loss following extreme weather events may have prolonged, negative impacts on even behaviourally flexible, higher-trophic level predators.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Anthropology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Life Sciences > General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology, General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Language:English
Date:1 April 2019
Deposited On:13 Feb 2020 15:27
Last Modified:22 Apr 2020 23:05
Publisher:Cell Press (Elsevier)
ISSN:0960-9822
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2019.02.047

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