Multivariate analysis of habitat selection by rorqual whales

 

Abstract:

A better understanding of habitat selection by large whales is critical to improve management plans in Eastern Canadian waters. However, cetacean habitats are notoriously difficult to study because of their complexity and high temporal variability. Here, we used an ocean model of the Gulf of St. Lawrence to analyze the fine-scale distribution of four rorqual whale species. For each of 5231 sightings collected from boat surveys (1996-2002) and an equal number of random locations representing available habitat, we computed depth and slope of the seabed, distance to shore, temperature, salinity, as well as horizontal and vertical tidal currents. We used discriminant analyses to identify the factors that best separated used from available habitat. The resulting resource selection functions emphasized the importance of dynamic variables such as temperature, salinity and currents. Discriminant analyses were also used to compare habitat preferences of the four species in environmental space.

Doniol-Valcroze, T., D. Berteaux and R. Sears. 2006. Multivariate analysis of habitat selection by rorqual whales. Poster presented at the inaugural meeting of the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution, Montreal , April 3-4, 2006.
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