Population Dynamics of Northern Bottlenose Whales
Laura Joan Feyrer, PhD Candidate
Northern Bottlenose whales are currently listed under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) in Canada and are composed of two genetically distinct sub populations (the Scotian Shelf and Labrador Davis Strait populations). My PhD research is examining the distribution, connectivity and persistence of northern bottlenose whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus) populations along the slope of the Canadian continental shelf in the northwest Atlantic by looking for evidence of ecological linkages and evolutionary structure in northern bottlenose populations using multiple streams of evidence from habitat models, photo-identification studies, stable isotopes, and genetics.
Northern bottlenose whale genomic resequencing project
Evelien de Greef, Researcher
Genomic tools provide high resolution data to investigate questions about genetic patterns in populations and adaptive genomic regions. My work integrates the northern bottlenose whale reference genome and whole-genome data to examine population structure and genetic subdivision across the North Atlantic region. Additionally, I am identifying genomic regions under selection, and estimating changes in effective population sizes to detect historical demographic shifts from events such as bottlenecks and expansions.
Social clicks of northern bottlenose whales
Ana Eiguiren, PhD Student
While we have a good understanding of northern bottlenose whale foraging clicks, which are echolocation clicks produced at great depths and regular time intervals, there is some evidence that NBW also produce social or “surface” clicks. These clicks have been typified by irregularly patterned intervals and have been observed in recordings while whales are socializing at the surface suggesting that they may serve in acoustic communication. Using new methods and high resolution acoustic recordings, we will test whether (1) NBW have stereotypical social click patterns and (2) whether these social click patterns vary between groups of geographically separated individuals. If evidence supports the distinction of different acoustic repertoires used in social contexts, future studies could apply acoustic methods to compare socially – mediated population structure and connectivity with those found using genetic and photographic datasets. Classification of social clicks could also support Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) of NBW populations and improve our understanding of connectivity between different areas within and outside the Scotian Shelf.