Phenological effects on southern resident killer whale population dynamics
Ogilvie, Mika Kenin Hallé
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Southern resident killer whale survival is threatened by a variety of known risk factors, but more likely exist. As this population lives entirely within the coastal Pacific waters of North America, the ocean environment may play a role in their survival. Killer whale life history population dynamics, reproductive success and neonate survival were evaluated for links to five physical oceanographic parameters: salinity, sea surface temperature, air pressure, wave height and wave period. This phenological study was conducted within the Canadian waters of the Salish Sea in the federally identified critical habitat. The timings of physical changes were analysed annually and seasonally over temporal periods of positive and negative population trajectories. Significant relationships were found in all cases, most notably with ocean salinity and air pressure. These findings shed light on the biophysical phenological relationships in killer whale survival and should be incorporated into future recovery actions.
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