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Pack A.A.,University of Hawaii at Hilo | Pack A.A.,The Dolphin Institute | Herman L.M.,The Dolphin Institute | Herman L.M.,University of Hawaii at Manoa | And 10 more authors.
Animal Behaviour | Year: 2012

Assortative pairing, and its relation to mate choice, has rarely been documented in mammals. Using data collected during 1998-2007, we investigated size-assortative pairing as it relates to discrimination amongst potential mates in humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, dyads in the Hawaiian breeding grounds. Across 67 male-female dyads in which both individuals were measured using underwater videogrammetry, male length was positively correlated with female length. Detailed analyses on the assessment of maturity by comparisons with whaling data revealed that mature-sized females associated almost exclusively with mature-sized males and had a significant preference for large mature-sized males. In contrast, mature-sized males were less discriminating in their associations with females and showed no significant preference for mature-sized females. However, mature-sized males that associated with immature-sized females were significantly smaller than males that associated with mature-sized females. Finally, immature-sized males tended to associate with immature-sized females. The sex differences in size preference by mature whales probably reflect the relatively high costs of mature females mating with small or immature males compared to the lower costs of mature males mating with small or immature females. Body size appears to influence the adoption of alternative mating tactics by males such that smaller mature males avoid the costs of competing for the highest-quality females and instead focus their attentions on smaller females that may or may not be mature. Overall, our results provide the first quantitative evidence of size-assortative pairing and female discrimination amongst potential mates in humpback whales and indeed in any cetacean species. © 2012 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.


Herman L.M.,University of Hawaii at Manoa | Herman L.M.,The Dolphin Institute | Pack A.A.,The Dolphin Institute | Pack A.A.,University of Hawaii at Hilo | And 5 more authors.
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology | Year: 2013

While on their winter breeding grounds, male humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) produce long sequences of structured vocalizations called song, whose function within the mating system is still unresolved. Here we ask which males sing. Is it only those sexually mature, as typifies songbirds and some lekking ungulates in which vocalizations during the rut are restricted to mature males? Or do immature males join in the chorus? Using an underwater videogrammetric technique, we measured the body lengths of 87 humpback singers in the Hawaiian winter grounds. Applying length and sexual maturity relationships for North Pacific humpbacks as determined by biologists aboard twentieth century Japanese whaling vessels, we found that singer lengths ranged from 10.7 to 13.6 m, with 15 % of lengths indicative of probable sexual immaturity (length < 11.3 m, p [maturity] < 0.5). We interpret this broad participation of males as a lekking aggregation and the asynchronous singing chorus as an instance of by-product mutualism. The participation of many singers yields a heightened signal level that may attract more females to the singing area. Sexually mature males can benefit through access to more females. Immature males may gain deferred benefits through increased opportunities to learn and practice the social, behavioral, and acoustical skills and conventions of the winter grounds that they can apply usefully in later years. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


Deakos M.H.,Hawaii Association for Marine Education and Research Inc. | Deakos M.H.,University of Hawaii at Manoa | Baker J.D.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Bejder L.,Murdoch University
Marine Ecology Progress Series | Year: 2011

Late maturity, few offspring and a residential nature are typical characteristics of Manta alfredi that make this species vulnerable to localized anthropogenic threats. Improving its life history information is crucial for successful management. A total of 229 surveys was conducted from 2005 to 2009 at a manta ray aggregation site off Maui, Hawaii, to qualitatively and quantitatively describe the abundance, movements and temporal habits of this population. Photo-identifications revealed 290 unique individuals, but a discovery curve showed no asymptotic trend, indicating that the number of individuals using the area was much larger. Resightings and manta ray follows revealed that this population and a population off the Big Island may be independent, island-associated stocks. High resighting rates within and across years provided strong evidence of site fidelity. Findings were consistent with a population of manta rays moving into and out of the Maui aggregation area, with a varying portion of the total population temporarily resident at any given time. Males, accounting for 53% of all individuals, resided for shorter periods than females around the study area. Manta rays were usually absent at first light with numbers increasing throughout the day. More frequent mating trains were observed during the winter months. Shark predation was evident in 33% of individuals, and 10% had an amputated or non-functional cephalic fin. This small, demographically independent population appears vulnerable to the impacts from non-target fisheries, primarily from entanglement in fishing line, and could suffer from exploitation by commercial, unregulated 'swim-with manta ray' programs. Management on an island-area basis is recommended. © Inter-Research 2011.


Thorne L.H.,State University of New York at Stony Brook | Thorne L.H.,Duke University | Johnston D.W.,Duke University | Johnston D.W.,Murdoch University | And 16 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Predictive habitat models can provide critical information that is necessary in many conservation applications. Using Maximum Entropy modeling, we characterized habitat relationships and generated spatial predictions of spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris) resting habitat in the main Hawaiian Islands. Spinner dolphins in Hawai'i exhibit predictable daily movements, using inshore bays as resting habitat during daylight hours and foraging in offshore waters at night. There are growing concerns regarding the effects of human activities on spinner dolphins resting in coastal areas. However, the environmental factors that define suitable resting habitat remain unclear and must be assessed and quantified in order to properly address interactions between humans and spinner dolphins. We used a series of dolphin sightings from recent surveys in the main Hawaiian Islands and a suite of environmental variables hypothesized as being important to resting habitat to model spinner dolphin resting habitat. The model performed well in predicting resting habitat and indicated that proximity to deep water foraging areas, depth, the proportion of bays with shallow depths, and rugosity were important predictors of spinner dolphin habitat. Predicted locations of suitable spinner dolphin resting habitat provided in this study indicate areas where future survey efforts should be focused and highlight potential areas of conflict with human activities. This study provides an example of a presence-only habitat model used to inform the management of a species for which patterns of habitat availability are poorly understood. © 2012 Thorne et al.


McCauley D.J.,University of California at Santa Barbara | DeSalles P.A.,Stanford University | Young H.S.,University of California at Santa Barbara | Papastamatiou Y.P.,University of St. Andrews | And 6 more authors.
Marine Biology | Year: 2014

Quantifying the ecological importance of individual habitats to highly mobile animals is challenging because patterns of habitat reliance for these taxa are complex and difficult to observe. We investigated the importance of lagoons to the manta ray, Manta alfredi, a wide-ranging and vulnerable species in a less-disturbed atoll ecosystem. Lagoons are highly sensitive to anthropogenic disturbance and are known to be ecologically important to a wide variety of mobile species. We used a novel combination of research tools to examine the reliance of M. alfredi on lagoon habitats. Stable isotope analysis was used to assay the recent energetic importance of lagoons to M. alfredi; high-resolution tracking data provided information about how M. alfredi utilised lagoonal habitats over long and short time periods; acoustic cameras logged patterns of animal entrances and departures from lagoons; and photo identification/laser photogrammetry provided some insight into why they may be using this habitat. M. alfredi showed strong evidence of energetic dependence on lagoon resources during the course of the study and spent long periods of residence within lagoons or frequently transited into them from elsewhere. While within lagoons, they demonstrated affinities for particular structural features within this habitat and showed evidence of temporal patterning in habitat utilization. This work sheds light on how and why M. alfredi uses lagoons and raises questions about how this use may be altered in disturbed settings. More generally, these observations contribute to our knowledge of how to assess the ecological importance of particular habitats situated within the broader home range of mobile consumers. © 2014 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

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