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Data from: A dynamic state model of migratory behavior and physiology to assess the consequences of environmental variation and anthropogenic disturbance on marine vertebrates

Citation

Pirotta, Enrico et al. (2017), Data from: A dynamic state model of migratory behavior and physiology to assess the consequences of environmental variation and anthropogenic disturbance on marine vertebrates, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.md416

Abstract

Integrating behavior and physiology is critical to formulating new hypotheses on the evolution of animal life-history strategies. Migratory capital breeders acquire most of the energy they need to sustain migration, gestation and lactation before parturition. Therefore, when predicting the impact of environmental variation on such species, a mechanistic understanding of the physiology of their migratory behavior is required. Using baleen whales as a model system, we developed a dynamic state variable model that captures the interplay among behavioral decisions, energy, reproductive needs and the environment. We applied the framework to blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) in the Eastern North Pacific Ocean, and explored the effects of environmental and anthropogenic perturbations on female reproductive success. We demonstrate the emergence of migration to track prey resources, enabling us to quantify the trade-offs among capital breeding, body condition, and metabolic expenses. We predict that periodic climatic oscillations affect reproductive success less than unprecedented environmental changes do. The effect of localized, acute anthropogenic impacts depended on whales' behavioral response to the disturbance; chronic, but weaker, disturbances had little effect on reproductive success. Because we link behavior and vital rates by modeling individuals' energetic budgets, we provide a general framework to investigate the ecology of migration and assess the population consequences of disturbance, while identifying critical knowledge gaps.

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Location

Eastern North Pacific