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The Southern Ocean Exchange: porous boundaries between humpback whale breeding populations in southern polar watersAbstract Humpback whales ( Megaptera novaeangliae ) are a cosmopolitan species and perform long annual migrations between low-latitude breeding areas and high-latitude feeding areas. Their breeding populations appear to be spatially and genetically segregated due to long-term, maternally inherited fidelity to natal breeding areas. In the Southern Hemisphere, some humpback whale breeding populations mix in Southern Ocean waters in summer, but very little movement between Pacific and Atlantic waters has been identified to date, suggesting these waters constituted an oceanic boundary between genetically distinct populations. Here, we present new evidence of summer co-occurrence in the West Antarctic Peninsula feeding areamore »Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
Fundamental scaling relationships influence the physiology of vital rates, which in turn shape the ecology and evolution of organisms. For diving mammals, benefits conferred by large body size include reduced transport costs and enhanced breath-holding capacity, thereby increasing overall foraging efficiency. Rorqual whales feed by engulfing a large mass of prey-laden water at high speed and filtering it through baleen plates. However, as engulfment capacity increases with body length (Engulfment Volume ∝ Body Length 3.57), the surface area of the baleen filter does not increase proportionally (Baleen Area ∝ Body Length1.82), and thus the filtration time of larger rorquals predictablymore »
Why whales are big but not bigger: Physiological drivers and ecological limits in the age of ocean giantsThe largest animals are marine filter feeders, but the underlying mechanism of their large size remains unexplained. We measured feeding performance and prey quality to demonstrate how whale gigantism is driven by the interplay of prey abundance and harvesting mechanisms that increase prey capture rates and energy intake. The foraging efficiency of toothed whales that feed on single prey is constrained by the abundance of large prey, whereas filter-feeding baleen whales seasonally exploit vast swarms of small prey at high efficiencies. Given temporally and spatially aggregated prey, filter feeding provides an evolutionary pathway to extremes in body size that aremore »