Movement and seasonal energetics mediate vulnerability to disturbance in marine mammal populations

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  • Cara Alyse Gallagher
  • ,
  • Volker Grimm, UFZ, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung GmbH, German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Germany
  • Line Anker Kyhn
  • Carl Christian Kinze, Denmark
  • Jacob Nabe-Nielsen
In marine environments noise from human activities is increasing dramatically, causing animals to alter their behavior and forage less efficiently. These alterations incur energetic costs that can result in reproductive failure, death, and may ultimately influence population viability; yet the link between population dynamics and individual energetics is poorly understood. We present an energy budget model for simulating effects of acoustic disturbance on populations. It accounts for environmental variability and individual state, while incorporating realistic animal movements. Using harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) as a case study, we evaluated population consequences of disturbance from seismic surveys and investigated underlying drivers of vulnerability. The framework reproduced empirical estimates of population structure and seasonal variations in energetics. The largest effects predicted for seismic surveys were in late summer and fall, and were unrelated to local abundance, but instead to lactation costs, water temperature, and body fat. Our results demonstrate that consideration of temporal variation in individual energetics and their link to costs associated with disturbances is imperative when predicting disturbance impacts. These mechanisms are general to animal species, and the framework presented here can be used for gaining new insights into the spatiotemporal variability of animal movements and energetics that control population dynamics.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Research areas

  • agent-based model, energy budget, harbor porpoises, marine mammals, anthropogenic disturbances, bioenergetics

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ID: 201782698