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Genetic profiling links changing sea-ice to shifting beluga whale migration patterns

Published on Nov 30, 2016in Biology Letters3.323
· DOI :10.1098/rsbl.2016.0404
Greg O’Corry-Crowe6
Estimated H-index: 6
(Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute),
Andrew R. Mahoney17
Estimated H-index: 17
(UAF: University of Alaska Fairbanks)
+ 4 AuthorsLois A. Harwood13
Estimated H-index: 13
Sources
Abstract
There is increasing concern over how Arctic fauna will adapt to climate related changes in sea-ice. We used long-term sighting and genetic data on beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) in conjuncti...
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Abstract The increased scientific interest in the Arctic due to climate change and potential oil and gas development has resulted in numerous surveys of Arctic marine fish communities since the mid-2000s. Surveys have been conducted in nearly all Arctic marine fish habitats: from lagoons, beaches and across the continental shelf and slope. This provides an opportunity only recently available to study Arctic fish communities across a spectrum of habitats. We examined fish survey data from lagoon,...
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Rapid warming of Arctic marine ecosystems has led to a change in the spatial distribution of fish communities, with boreal communities expanding into regions previously dominated by Arctic fish species, which are now retracting northwards.
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Arctic sea ice decline has led to an amplification of surface warming and is projected to continue to decline from anthropogenic forcing, although the exact timing of ice-free summers is uncertain owing to large natural variability. Sea ice reductions affect surface heating patterns and the atmospheric pressure distribution, which may alter midlatitude extreme weather patterns. Increased light penetration and nutrient availability during spring from earlier ice breakup enhances primary productio...
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The loss of Arctic sea ice is predicted to open up the Northwest Passage, shortening shipping routes and facilitating the exchange of marine organisms between the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. Here, we present the first observations of distribution overlap of bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) from the two oceans in the Northwest Passage, demonstrating this route is already connecting whales from two populations that have been assumed to be separated by sea ice. Previous satellite tracking h...
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Arctic sea ice has changed dramatically, especially during the last decade and continued declines in extent and thickness are expected for the decades to come. Some ice-associated marine mammals are already showing distribution shifts, compromised body condition and declines in production/abundance in response to sea-ice declines. In contrast, temperate marine mammal species are showing northward expansions of their ranges, which are likely to cause competitive pressure on some endemic Arctic sp...
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Population structure in many Arctic marine mammal species reflects a dynamic interplay between physical isolating mechanisms and the extent to which dispersal opportunities are met. We examined variation within mtDNA and eight microsatellite markers to investigate population structure and demographic history in beluga whales in the North Atlantic. Genetic heterogeneity was observed between Svalbard and West Greenland that reveals limited gene flow over ecological time scales. Differentiation was...
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Population segregation by habitat use occurs because energy requirements and survival strategies vary with age, sex, size, and reproductive stage. From late summer to early fall in 1993, 1995, and 1997, relative length (age), sex, and reproductive status of satellite-tagged beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas (Pallas, 1776)) in the eastern Beaufort Sea were tested for habitat segregation. We used (i) resource selection function models to evaluate how belugas used areas of varying sea ice concen...
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Beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) congregate in nearshore waters of the eastern Chukchi Sea, especially in Kotzebue Sound and Kasegaluk Lagoon, in June and July. Where they travel after they leave this area was unknown before this study. We live-captured five belugas in Kasegaluk Lagoon and attached satellite-linked depth recorders to them. The belugas, caught between 26 June and 1 July 1998, were all males, ranging in length from 398 to 440 cm. A 310 cm gray beluga accompanied the smallest ...
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Animal behaviors are governed by the intrinsic need to survive and reproduce. Even when sophisticated predators and prey are involved, these tenets of behavioral ecology hold. Similar to humans, fear can be a strong motivator for change in animals. The terrestrial ecology literature is replete with examples of fear-mediated behavioral effects on species and community networks. In contrast, the marine mammal literature is sparse in its recognition and consideration of nonconsumptive effects or ri...
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