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Noninvasive unmanned aerial vehicle provides estimates of the energetic cost of reproduction in humpback whales

Christiansen, Fredrik, Dujon, Antoine M, Sprogis, Kate R, Arnould, John PY and Bejder, Lars 2016, Noninvasive unmanned aerial vehicle provides estimates of the energetic cost of reproduction in humpback whales, Ecosphere, vol. 7, no. 10, pp. 1-18, doi: 10.1002/ecs2.1468.

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Title Noninvasive unmanned aerial vehicle provides estimates of the energetic cost of reproduction in humpback whales
Author(s) Christiansen, Fredrik
Dujon, Antoine M
Sprogis, Kate R
Arnould, John PYORCID iD for Arnould, John PY orcid.org/0000-0003-1124-9330
Bejder, Lars
Journal name Ecosphere
Volume number 7
Issue number 10
Article ID e01468
Start page 1
End page 18
Total pages 18
Publisher Ecological Society of America
Place of publication Washington, D.C.
Publication date 2016-10
ISSN 2150-8925
2150-8925
Keyword(s) baleen whales
bioenergetics
body condition
body morphometrics
breeding ground
drones
energy storage
energy transfer
life history
Megaptera novaeangliae
photogrammetry
Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Ecology
Environmental Sciences & Ecology
Porpoise Phocoena-Phocoena
Body-fat condition
Balaenoptera-acutorostrata
Eubalaena-glacialis
Material investment
Minke whales
Western Australia
Parturition date
Capital breeder
Fin whales
Summary An animal's body condition will affect its survival and reproductive success, which influences population dynamics. Despite its importance, relatively little is known about the body condition of large whales and its relationship to reproduction. We assessed the body condition of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) at a breeding/resting ground from aerial photographs recorded using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Photogrammetry methods were used to measure the surface area of individual whales, which was used as an index for body condition. Repeated measurements of the same individuals were not possible; hence, this study represents a cross-sectional sample of the population. Intraseasonal changes in the body condition of four reproductive classes (calves, immature, mature, and lactating) were investigated to infer the relative energetic cost that each class faces during the breeding season. To better understand the costs of reproduction, we investigated the relationship between female body condition (FBC) and the linear growth and body condition of their dependent calves (CBC). We documented a linear decline in the body condition of mature whales (0.027 m2/d; n = 20) and lactating females (0.032 m2/d; n = 31) throughout the breeding season, while there was no change in body condition of immature whales (n = 51) and calves (n = 32). The significant decline in mature and lactating female's body condition implies substantial energetic costs for these reproductive classes. In support of this, we found a positive linear relationship between FBC and CBC. This suggests that females in poorer body condition may not have sufficient energy stores to invest as much energy into their offspring as better conditioned females without jeopardizing their own body condition and survival probability. Measurement precision was investigated from repeated measurements of the same animals both from the same and different photographs, and by looking at residual errors in relation to the positioning of the whales in the photographs. The resulting errors were included in a sensitivity analysis to demonstrate that model parameters were robust to measurement errors. Our findings provide strong support for the use of UAVs as a noninvasive tool to measure the body condition of whales and other mammals.
Language eng
DOI 10.1002/ecs2.1468
Field of Research 050199 Ecological Applications not elsewhere classified
060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology)
0501 Ecological Applications
0602 Ecology
0608 Zoology
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2016, The Authors
Free to Read? Yes
Use Rights Creative Commons Attribution licence
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30089359

Document type: Journal Article
Collections: School of Life and Environmental Sciences
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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.