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- Foraging behavior of humpback whales: Kinematic and respiratory patterns suggest a high cost for a lunge,
- Lunge feeding in rorqual whales is a drag-based feeding mechanism that is thought to entail a high energetic cost and consequently limit the maximum dive time of these extraordinarily large predators. Although the kinematics of lunge feeding in fin whales supports this hypothesis, it is unclear whether respiratory compensation occurs as a consequence of lunge-feeding activity. We used high-resolution digital tags on foraging humpback whales (Megaptera novaengliae) to determine the number of lunges executed per dive as well as respiratory frequency between dives. Data from two whales are reported, which together performed 58 foraging dives and 451 lunges. During one study, we tracked one tagged whale for approximately 2h and examined the spatial distribution of prey using a digital echosounder. These data were integrated with the dive profile to reveal that lunges are directed toward the upper boundary of dense krill aggregations. Foraging dives were characterized by a gliding descent, up to 15 lunges at depth, and an ascent powered by steady swimming. Longer dives were required to perform more lunges at depth and these extended apneas were followed by an increase in the number of breaths taken after a dive. Maximum dive durations during foraging were approximately half of those previously reported for singing (i.e. non-feeding) humpback whales. At the highest lunge frequencies (10 to 15 lunges per dive), respiratory rate was at least threefold higher than that of singing humpback whales that underwent a similar degree of apnea. These data suggest that the high energetic cost associated with lunge feeding in blue and fin whales also occurs in intermediate sized rorquals., Cited By (since 1996):31, CODEN: JEBIA, ,
- Goldbogen, Calambokidis, Croll, Harvey, Newton, Oleson, Schorr, Shadwick
- Prey density and distribution drive the three-dimensional foraging strategies of the largest filter feeder
- Despite their importance in determining the rate of both energy gain and expenditure, how the fine-scale kinematics of foraging are modified in response to changes in prey abundance and distribution remain poorly understood in many animal ecosystems. In the marine environment, bulk-filter feeders rely on dense aggregations of prey for energetically efficient foraging. Rorqual whales (Balaenopteridae) exhibit a unique form of filter feeding called lunge feeding, a process whereby discrete volumes of prey-laden water are intermittently engulfed and filtered. In many large rorqual species the size of engulfed water mass is commensurate with the whale's body size, yet is engulfed in just a few seconds. This filter-feeding mode thus requires precise coordination of the body and enlarged engulfment apparatus to maximize capture efficiency. Previous studies from whale-borne tags revealed that many rorqual species perform rolling behaviours when foraging. It has been hypothesized that such acrobatic manoeuvres may be required for efficient prey capture when prey manifest in small discrete patches, but to date there has been no comprehensive analysis of prey patch characteristics during lunge feeding events. We developed a null hypothesis that blue whale kinematics are independent of prey patch characteristics. To test this hypothesis, we investigated the foraging performance of blue whales, the largest filter-feeding predator and their functional response to variability in their sole prey source, krill using a generalized additive mixed model framework. We used a combination of animal-borne movement sensors and hydroacoustic prey mapping to simultaneously quantify the three-dimensional foraging kinematics of blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) and the characteristics of targeted krill patches. Our analyses rejected our null hypothesis, showing that blue whales performed more acrobatic manoeuvres, including 180° and 360° rolling lunges, when foraging on low-density krill patches. In contrast, whales targeting high-density krill patches involved less manoeuvring during lunges and higher lunge feeding rates. These data demonstrate that blue whales exhibit a range of adaptive foraging strategies that maximize prey capture in different ecological contexts. Because first principles indicate that manoeuvres require more energy compared with straight trajectories, our data reveal a previously unrecognized level of complexity in predator-prey interactions that are not accounted for in optimal foraging and energetic efficiency models.
- Goldbogen, Hazen, Friedlaender, Calambokidis, Deruiter, Stimpert, Southall