Evaluating the mixed species feeding opportunities provided by foraging humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) across ocean ecosystems Public

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/honors_college_theses/b5644t44k

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  • Group foraging occurs across many ecosystems and taxa, and benefits some or all individuals in the group by optimizing feeding efficiency. The beater theory describes when individual “beaters” benefit other group members by herding prey into more accessible areas. Humpback whales feed on a variety of small patchy prey, and as large predators could play an integral role in marine group foraging. Using video-tag data I analyzed the frequency humpback whales engaged in group foraging, and the patterns in prey type, foraging techniques, and other predators present. Results showed humpback whales participate in various foraging groups by location. The increased proportion of group bubble net feeding may indicate that humpback whales aid other air-breathing predators in the group by acting as beaters. This study serves as a preliminary investigation into humpback whales’ roles in group foraging utilizing subsurface observations. Future research may aim to develop broader spatial and temporal patterns, and compare these patterns to other marine and terrestrial mixed foraging groups. Key Words: group foraging, Megaptera novaeangliae, beater theory, animal-borne tags, behavior
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