Abundance of humpback whales in Oceania using photo-identification and microsatellite genotyping Public Deposited


The version of record is embargoed until 05-07-2016. The final peer reviewed, accepted manuscript is available without an embargo. The published article is copyrighted by Inter-Research and can be found at:


Attribute NameValues
  • Estimating the abundance of long-lived, migratory animals is challenging but essential for managing populations. We provide the first abundance estimates of endangered humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae from their breeding grounds in Oceania, South Pacific. Using fluke photo-identification (1999−2004, n = 660 individuals) and microsatellite genotypes (1999−2005, n = 840 individuals), we estimated abundance with open capture-recapture statistical models. Total Oceania abundance and trends were estimated from 4 primary and 5 secondary sampling sites across the region. Sex-specific genotype data enabled us to account for the difference in capturability of males and females, by doubling male-specific estimates of abundance derived from genotypes. Abundance estimates were congruent between primary- and secondaryregion data sets, suggesting that the primary regions are representative of all Oceania. The best estimate of total abundance was 4329 whales (3345−5313) in 2005, from a sex-specific POPAN super-population model, which includes resident whales and those migrating through the surveyed areas. A doubled-male POPAN abundance estimate from 2003 (n = 2941, 95% CI = 1648−4234) was considered the most plausible for the 4 primary survey areas and was similar to the 2003 doubled-male estimate derived from Pradel capture probabilities (n = 2952, 95% CI = 2043−4325). Our results confirm that Oceania is the least abundant humpback whale breeding population in the southern hemisphere. Pradel models showed no significant trend in abundance, which contradicts the recovery seen in most other populations throughout the world. Thus we suggest that the whales in this area warrant continued study and management attention.
Resource Type
Date Available
Date Issued
  • Constantine, R., Jackson, J., Steel, D., Baker, C., Brooks, L., Burns, D., . . . . (2012). Abundance of humpback whales in oceania using photo-identification and microsatellite genotyping. Marine Ecology-Progress Series, 453, 249-261. doi: 10.3354/meps09613
Journal Title
Journal Volume
  • 453
Non-Academic Affiliation
Rights Statement
Funding Statement (additional comments about funding)
  • This research is a contribution by the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium. We were generously funded by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, French Fonds Pacifique (through Opération Cétacés), the National Marine Mammal Laboratory, the Australian Department of Water, Heritage and Arts RNHP Fund, and the International Whaling Commission Scientific Committee.



This work has no parents.

In Collection: