Humpback whales may struggle to reproduce amid rapid environmental changes in the world's oceans, according to a new study
Researchers have found a significant drop in the reproductive success of humpback whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, an important summer feeding ground for humpback whales in Canada, of 2004 at 2018
The study also found that year-to-year changes in reproductive success were most closely related to changes in environmental indicators.
The Gulf of St. Lawrence has experienced a rise in sea temperature and a decrease in sea ice cover due to the climate crisis, according to the study
This is likely leading to large-scale changes in the region's ecosystem, affecting the availability of food for humpback whales, who are the main predators, explained Dr Joanna Kershaw, St Andrews University marine mammal researcher and lead study author. , which is published in Global Change Biology
«It was previously thought that baleen whales could potentially show some resilience to climate change due to their ability to alter their migratory patterns., or to change the prey species, for example, if the location or abundance of their main prey changes,» she says The Independent
“However, this research shows that their ability to react in this way may not be sufficient to prevent their reproductive success from being affected by environmental change.”
To track changes in reproductive success, scientists took photographs of sightings of mothers and cubs in the Gulf of St. Lawrence from 2004 at 2018.
The researchers also tracked the pregnancy rates of female humpback whales., they took fat biopsy samples
Tracking both pregnancy rates and calving success, they were able to determine that approximately 39 percent of identified pregnancies failed during the study period of 15 years.
«Ensemble, these data suggest that the decline in reproductive success may be, at least in part, the result of the inability of females to accumulate the energy stores necessary to maintain pregnancy and meet lactation energy requirements during the years of poorer prey availability rather than mere inability to become pregnant », said Dr Kershaw
This inability to accumulate enough energy stores is probably related to the fact that whales are not able to find enough food in their summer feeding grounds., she explained.
The findings follow another study in December which found that warming oceans may also affect the breeding success of southern right whales in South Africa.
Le Dr Emma Carroll, author of the southern right whale study and conservationist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, told The Independent: «The paper adds to the growing body of knowledge about whale ecology that our article on the right whale has also contributed
«Humpback whales and southern right whales are both« capital raisers » They feed during the summer and this provides enough energy during the winter and for pregnancy and lactation
“Generally, it's the same picture, just a different species and environment Humans are changing ecosystem and whale populations show slow recovery [previous human pressures such as hunting]”
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Humpback whale, whales, climate change
News – GB – Humpback whales could reproduce less amid climate crisis, according to a study
Associated title :
– Humpback whales could breed less amid climate crisis, according to a study
– Humpback whales affected by climate change