Long-term decline in survival and reproduction of dolphins following a marine heatwave.

08:00 EDT 1st April 2019 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Long-term decline in survival and reproduction of dolphins following a marine heatwave."

One of many challenges in the conservation of biodiversity is the recent trend in the frequency and intensity of extreme climatic events [1]. The Shark Bay World Heritage Area, Western Australia, endured an unprecedented marine heatwave in 2011. Catastrophic losses of habitat-forming seagrass meadows followed [2], along with mass mortalities of invertebrate and fish communities [3]. Our long-term demographic data on Shark Bay's resident Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) population revealed a significant decline in female reproductive rates following the heatwave. Moreover, capture-recapture analyses indicated 5.9% and 12.2% post-heatwave declines in the survival of dolphins that use tools to forage and those that do not, respectively. This implies that the tool-using dolphins may have been somewhat buffered against the cascading effects of habitat loss following the heatwave by having access to a less severely affected foraging niche [4]. Overall, however, lower survival has persisted post-heatwave, suggesting that habitat loss following extreme weather events may have prolonged, negative impacts on even behaviourally flexible, higher-trophic level predators. VIDEO ABSTRACT.


Journal Details

This article was published in the following journal.

Name: Current biology : CB
ISSN: 1879-0445
Pages: R239-R240


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