September: From the Scientists...

Posted by Holli Eskelinen, Ph.D. on Sep 26, 2020 12:00:00 AM

The research department was honored to publish our article, The Effects of Reproductive Status and Aquatic Mammals Cover-2Water Temperature on the Caloric Intake of Tursiops truncatus in Aquatic Mammals last month. This manuscript is the culmination of over a decade of data collection to advance our understanding of odontocetes' energetic requirements. Several studies have examined the consumption patterns and energy requirements of cetaceans, yet little is known about how these values change with respect to reproductive status and small scale changes in water temperature. Access to Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) living under human care in natural seawater enclosures allows for a detailed look into diet (i.e., specific to each catch), intake, and relative energetic adjustments made in response to reproductive and thermoregulatory demands. This project aimed to provide valuable information regarding the complex intersection between life history, season, and prey resources. These data may provide conservative estimates of caloric need for extrapolation to free-ranging populations to estimate the carrying capacity of specific habitats, the resilience of cetaceans in the face of increasing anthropogenic pressure and environmental change, and the impact dolphins have on prey resources and trophic cascades. 

Figure Caloric Intake-1

Figure. Mean (±2SE) caloric intake (kcal, blue bars) and mean (±2SE) water temperature (°C, green line) per week (n = 52), for each reproductive subpopulation per sample year (Nyears = 41).  

Topics: Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins, Animal Welfare, Newsletter

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