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Polar Biology

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 205–215 | Cite as

Decrease in stomach contents in the Antarctic minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis) in the Southern Ocean

  • Kenji Konishi
  • Takashi Hakamada
  • Hiroshi Kiwada
  • Toshihide Kitakado
  • Lars Walløe
Original Paper

Abstract

The Antarctic minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis) is one of the major krill predators in Antarctic waters. A reported decline in energy storage over almost two decades indicates that food availability for the whales may also have declined recently. To test this hypothesis, catch data from 20 survey years in the Japanese Whale Research Program in the Antarctic (JARPA) and its second phase (JARPA II) (1990/91–2009/10), which covered the longitudinal sector between 35°E and 145°W south of 58°S, were used to investigate whether there was any annual trend in the stomach contents weight of Antarctic minke whales. A linear mixed-effects analysis showed a 31 % (95 % CI 12.6–45.3 %) decrease in the weight of stomach contents over the 20 years since 1990/1991. A similar pattern of decrease was found in both males and females, except in the case of females sampled at higher latitude in the Ross Sea. These results suggest a decrease in the availability of krill for Antarctic minke whales in the lower latitudinal range of the research area. The results are consistent with the decline in energy storage reported previously. The decrease in krill availability could be due to environmental changes or to an increase in the abundance of other krill-feeding predators. The latter appears somewhat more likely, given the recent rapid recovery of humpback whale. Furthermore, humpback whales are not found in the Ross Sea, where both Antarctic krill and ice krill (Euphausia crystallorophias) are available, and where no change in prey availability for Antarctic minke whales is indicated.

Keywords

Minke whale Feeding ecology Balaenoptera Ross Sea Antarctic krill 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank all the captains, crews, especially Hajime Shirasaki (Kyodo Senpaku Co. Ltd.) and the scientists who were involved in the JARPA and JARPA II surveys. Thanks are also due to T. Tamura, S. Kumagai, L.A. Pastene, H. Skaug and D. Butterworth for their useful comments on the manuscript, and to Alison Coulthard for correcting the English. The JARPA program was conducted with permission from the Japanese Fisheries Agency, Government of Japan.

Supplementary material

300_2013_1424_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (396 kb)
Online Resource 1 Efforts of sighting and sampling vessels and position of the Antarctic minke whales with stomach contents caught in JARPA and JARPA II periods (1990/91-2009/10). Grey lines represent search lines and black circles represent sampling positions where whales were sampled. (PDF 396 kb)
300_2013_1424_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (95 kb)
Online Resource 2 List of linear mixed-effects models used in the main analyses with log-transformed stomach content weight (log-SCW) as the dependent variable. The covariates in models were selected by an inclusion and exclusion process depending on whether the AIC value was smaller than in a previous model (Online Resource 3). (PDF 94 kb)
300_2013_1424_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (125 kb)
Online Resource 3 Results of linear mixed-effects models with log-transformed stomach content weight (log-SCW) as the dependent variable. Results are shown for both sexes combined and for males and females separately. The female dataset was divided into two, for lower (<70°S) and higher (>70°S) latitude areas. The Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) method was applied for each model to evaluate and estimate p-values. Delta-AIC = 0 for the minimum AIC in each group of results. (PDF 124 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenji Konishi
    • 1
  • Takashi Hakamada
    • 1
  • Hiroshi Kiwada
    • 2
  • Toshihide Kitakado
    • 3
  • Lars Walløe
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute of Cetacean ResearchTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Ocean Engineering & Development Co., Ltd.TokyoJapan
  3. 3.Tokyo University of Marine Science and TechnologyTokyoJapan
  4. 4.Department of Physiology, Institute of Basic Medical SciencesUniversity of OsloBlindern, OsloNorway

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