Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies

Provincetown, MA, United States

Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies

Provincetown, MA, United States
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Stevick P.T.,College of the Atlantic | Neves M.C.,Instituto Baleia Jubarte | Johansen F.,Granholt | Engel M.H.,Instituto Baleia Jubarte | And 4 more authors.
Biology Letters | Year: 2011

Fidelity of individual animals to breeding sites is a primary determinant of population structure. The degree and scale of philopatry in a population reflect the fitness effects of social facilitation, ecological adaptation and optimal inbreeding. Patterns of breeding-site movement and fidelity are functions of social structure and are frequently sex biased. We report on a female humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) first identified by natural markings off Brazil that subsequently was photographed off Madagascar. The minimum travel distance between these locations is greater than 9800 km, approximately 4000 km longer than any previously reported movement between breeding grounds, more than twice the species' typical seasonal migratory distance and the longest documented movement by a mammal. It is unexpected to find this exceptional long-distance movement between breeding groups by a female, as models of philopatry suggest that male mammals move more frequently or over longer distances in search of mating opportunities. While such movement may be advantageous, especially in changeable or unpredictable circumstances, it is not possible to unambiguously ascribe causality to this rare observation. This finding illustrates the behavioural flexibility in movement patterns that may be demonstrated within a typically philopatric species. © 2011 The Royal Society.


Baumgartner M.F.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | Hammar T.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | Robbins J.,Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies
Methods in Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2015

Current studies of fine-scale baleen whale diving and foraging behaviour rely on archival suction cup tags that remain attached over time scales of hours. However, skin irregularities can make suction cup attachment unreliable, and traditional pole deployment of suction cup tags is challenging in moderate sea conditions or when whales are evasive. We developed a new tag attachment to overcome these limitations. The attachment features a short (6·5-7·5 cm) needle that anchors in the whale's dermis (epidermis and blubber) to which a free-floating tag is attached via a severable tethered link. The needle, tag and a detachable 'carrier rocket' with fletching are fitted together to form a projectile that can be deployed at distances of up to 20 m using a compressed-air launcher. A corrosive release mechanism allows the tag to separate from the needle after a specified period of time so that the tag can be recovered. The dermal attachment was evaluated during a study of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in the Gulf of Maine and then subsequently deployed on bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) near Barrow, Alaska. Monitoring of tagged humpback whales indicated that the needle was shed several days after deployment, the attachment site healed shortly thereafter, and there were no discernible behavioural or health effects over time scales of days to months after tagging. Bowhead whales showed little immediate reaction to tagging; the most common response was a prolonged dive right after tag deployment. On average, respiration rates of tagged bowhead whales were elevated after tag attachment, but returned to the same rate as undisturbed bowheads within 1-1·5 h. When compared to suction cups, the dermal anchor provided a more reliable attachment and it can be applied from greater distances and in rougher sea conditions; it is therefore a useful alternative in circumstances where suction cup tags cannot be easily deployed. © 2015 British Ecological Society.


Williams R.,University of British Columbia | Gero S.,Dalhousie University | Bejder L.,Murdoch University | Calambokidis J.,Cascadia Research Collective | And 4 more authors.
Conservation Letters | Year: 2011

Evaluating impacts of human activities on marine ecosystems is difficult when effects occur out of plain sight. Oil spill severity is often measured by the number of marine birds and mammals killed, but only a small fraction of carcasses are recovered. The Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was the largest in the U.S. history, but some reports implied modest environmental impacts, in part because of a relatively low number (101) of observed marine mammal mortalities. We estimate historical carcass-detection rates for 14 cetacean species in the northern Gulf of Mexico that have estimates of abundance, survival rates, and stranding records. This preliminary analysis suggests that carcasses are recovered, on an average, from only 2% (range: 0-6.2%) of cetacean deaths. Thus, the true death toll could be 50 times the number of carcasses recovered, given no additional information. We discuss caveats to this estimate, but present it as a counterpoint to illustrate the magnitude of misrepresentation implicit in presenting observed carcass counts without similar qualification. We urge methodological development to develop appropriate multipliers. Analytical methods are required to account explicitly for low probability of carcass recovery from cryptic mortality events (e.g., oil spills, ship strikes, bycatch in unmonitored fisheries and acoustic trauma). © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


Clark C.W.,Cornell University | Brown M.W.,Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies | Corkeron P.,Cornell University
Marine Mammal Science | Year: 2010

Abstract: North Atlantic right whales, Eubalaena glacialis, remain endangered, primarily due to excessive anthropogenic mortality. Current management protocols in US waters are triggered by identifying the presence of at least one right whale in a management area. We assessed whether acoustic detection of right whale contact calls can work as an alternative to visual aerial surveys for establishing their presence. Aerial survey and acoustic monitoring were conducted in Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts, in 2001-2005 and used to evaluate and compare right whale detections. Over the 58 d with simultaneous aerial and acoustic coverage, aerial surveys saw whales on approximately two-thirds of the days during which acoustic monitoring heard whales. There was no strong relationship between numbers of whales seen during aerial surveys and numbers of contact calls detected on survey days. Results indicate acoustic monitoring is a more reliable mechanism than aerial survey for detecting right whales. Because simple detection is sufficient to trigger current management protocols, continuous, autonomous acoustic monitoring provides information of immediate management utility more reliably than aerial surveillance. Aerial surveys are still required to provide data for estimating population parameters and for visually assessing the frequency and severity of injuries from shipping and fishing and detecting injured and entangled right whales. © 2010 by the Society for Marine Mammalogy.


Parrish C.E.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Parrish C.E.,University of New Hampshire | Rogers J.N.,Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies | Rogers J.N.,University of New Hampshire | Calder B.R.,University of New Hampshire
IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters | Year: 2014

There is currently great interest in lidar surveys of salt marshes to support coastal management and decision making. However, vertical uncertainty of lidar elevations is generally higher in salt marshes than in upland areas, and it can be difficult to empirically quantify due to the challenges of obtaining ground control in marshes. Assuming that most of the component uncertainties in the lidar geolocation equation will remain essentially constant over a relatively small location, it is posited that vertical uncertainty in a marsh will vary mostly as a function of surface and cover characteristics. These, in turn, should affect lidar wave-forms recorded during the survey, and therefore, analysis of the waveform shapes may allow for prediction of vertical uncertainty variation. Waveforms at three test sites were used to compute 16 computationally efficient features that describe the shapes; and simple, multilinear, and principal component regressions were used to evaluate their ability to predict elevation differences between lidar and Global Positioning System ground control. The results show that a simple estimate of waveform width can explain over 50% of the total variability in elevation differences but that multilinear regression does not significantly improve the performance. Somewhat surprisingly, skewness of the waveform does not appear to be a good predictor of elevation differences in these cases. © 2013 IEEE.


Ford J.H.,CSIRO | Ford J.H.,University of Tasmania | Bravington M.V.,CSIRO | Robbins J.,Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies
Methods in Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2012

1. Understanding individual variation is a key challenge in ecology. Inherent individual differences in movement and behaviour pose fundamental problems in the analysis of mark-recapture data as unmodelled individual differences can bias estimates of population size and survival rates. Multi-state mark-recapture models have been the focus of much recent research but have yet to explicitly incorporate individual variability. 2. We use a multi-state mark-recapture model with individual-level random effects, built in admb-re, a software tool that automatically provides an accurate analytical approximation of the likelihood which is otherwise intractable. We tested the model using simulation studies and applied the model to data from North Atlantic humpback whales in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary where heterogeneity is apparent in both sighting probability and site preference. 3. Simulation studies demonstrated accurate estimation of true parameter values with random effects models but bias sometimes resulted from fitting simpler models. 4. In application to data from the North Atlantic humpback whales, we were able to estimate both annual variation in the local population and three measures of individual-level variation. Results indicate considerable heterogeneity within this population in both sighting probability and site preference. Ignoring random effects led to bias in estimates of proportion of time within a marine reserve. © 2012 CSIRO. Methods in Ecology and Evolution © 2012 British Ecological Society.


Nichols O.C.,Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies | Nichols O.C.,University of Massachusetts Dartmouth | Tscherter U.T.,Ocean Research and Education Society
Journal of Fish Biology | Year: 2011

Sea lampreys Petromyzon marinus were observed on 109 occasions on 47 individual minke whales Balaenoptera acutorostrata. Bloody lesions could be identified as previous attachment sites, indicating P. marinus feeding on B. acutorostrata blood. © 2010 The Authors. Journal of Fish Biology © 2010 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles.


Parks S.E.,Pennsylvania State University | Warren J.D.,University of Southampton | Stamieszkin K.,Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies | Mayo C.A.,Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies | Wiley D.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Biology Letters | Year: 2012

North Atlantic right whales are critically endangered and, despite international protection from whaling, significant numbers die from collisions with ships. Large groups of right whales migrate to the coastal waters of New England during the late winter and early spring to feed in an area with large numbers of vessels. North Atlantic right whales have the largest per capita record of vessel strikes of any large whale population in the world. Right whale feeding behaviour in Cape Cod Bay (CCB) probably contributes to risk of collisions with ships. In this study, feeding right whales tagged with archival suction cup tags spent the majority of their time just below the water's surface where they cannot be seen but are shallow enough to be vulnerable to ship strike. Habitat surveys show that large patches of right whale prey are common in the upper 5 m of the water column in CCB during spring. These results indicate that the typical spring-time foraging ecology of right whales may contribute to their high level of mortality from vessel collisions. The results of this study suggest that remote acoustic detection of prey aggregations may be a useful supplement to the management and conservation of right whales. © 2011 The Royal Society.


Erbe C.,Curtin University Australia | Williams R.,University of St. Andrews | Sandilands D.,Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies | Ashe E.,University of St. Andrews
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

The inshore, continental shelf waters of British Columbia (BC), Canada are busy with ship traffic. South coast waters are heavily trafficked by ships using the ports of Vancouver and Seattle. North coast waters are less busy, but expected to get busier based on proposals for container port and liquefied natural gas development and expansion. Abundance estimates and density surface maps are available for 10 commonly seen marine mammals, including northern resident killer whales, fin whales, humpback whales, and other species with at-risk status under Canadian legislation. Ship noise is the dominant anthropogenic contributor to the marine soundscape of BC, and it is chronic. Underwater noise is now being considered in habitat quality assessments in some countries and in marine spatial planning. We modeled the propagation of underwater noise from ships and weighted the received levels by species-specific audiograms. We overlaid the audiogram-weighted maps of ship audibility with animal density maps. The result is a series of so-called "hotspot" maps of ship noise for all 10 marine mammal species, based on cumulative ship noise energy and average distribution in the boreal summer. South coast waters (Juan de Fuca and Haro Straits) are hotspots for all species that use the area, irrespective of their hearing sensitivity, simply due to ubiquitous ship traffic. Secondary hotspots were found on the central and north coasts (Johnstone Strait and the region around Prince Rupert). These maps can identify where anthropogenic noise is predicted to have above-average impact on species-specific habitat, and where mitigation measures may be most effective. This approach can guide effective mitigation without requiring fleet-wide modification in sites where no animals are present or where the area is used by species that are relatively insensitive to ship noise. © 2014 Erbe et al.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: FIELD STATIONS | Award Amount: 288.62K | Year: 2016

Over the last 40 years, the Center for Coastal Studies (CCS) on outer Cape Cod, Massachusetts has advanced understanding of marine and coastal ecosystems, including: the biology of endangered species; the impacts of pollution on productive embayments; the effects of sea level rise on coastal resources and development; and the impacts of a changing ecosystem on marine mammals and fisheries. This award provides funds to expand research capability through the creation of a new Integrated Analytical Laboratory to facilitate research and opportunities for collaboration. Facilities for sediment analysis will help scientists understand complex coastal processes and help to guide adaptation and coastal resiliency actions that coastal communities must make. Such research is vital in light of the fact that sea levels are rising more dramatically in the northeast Atlantic than almost anywhere else in the world. Data from long-term population biology and ecology studies provide an invaluable foundation for assessing climate change impacts over the past 30 years and projecting into the future. They are particularly essential for understanding the remaining population of the endangered North Atlantic right whales that feed and nurse their young along the heavily industrialized and developed shore of eastern Massachusetts.

The improvements will more than triple the size of current laboratory space, and expand opportunities for collaboration with other scientific and academic institutions. The new laboratory will consist of facilities for water quality analysis, biological sample analysis and sediment analysis. Expanded laboratory capacity for water quality analysis will be essential in helping the region implement its EPA 208 Water Quality plan and remedy issues of nitrogen pollution in Cape Cod?s bays, inlets and harbors. The new laboratory facilities will also protect sensitive research archives generated by the Center?s multi-decade history of marine mammal research. The improved facilities will increase opportunities for graduate students, interns and apprentices, and enhance CCS?s unique ability and opportunity to interact with the public, thanks to its prominence in environmental education and outreach in a popular tourist destination. CCS?s STEM-based school programs, more than 100 annual public programs, public kiosk and Marine Discovery Center, and other outreach directly impacts nearly 20,000 people of all ages each year. The products of research will also help resource managers to better protect threatened and endangered environments and species. For more information about the Center for Coastal Studies, please visit the website at: http://coastalstudies.org/.

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