Periodic variability in cetacean strandings: links to large-scale climate events

K Evans, R Thresher, R Warneke, Corey Bradshaw, M Pook, Deboral Thiele, M HINDELL

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    Abstract

    Cetacean strandings elicit much community and scientific interest, but few quantitative analyses have successfully identified environmental correlates to these phenomena. Data spanning 1920-2002, involving a total of 639 stranding events and 39 taxa groups from southeast Australia, were found to demonstrate a clear 11-13- year periodicity in the number of events through time. These data positively correlated with the regional persistence of both zonal (westerly) and meridional (southerly) winds, reflecting general long-term and large-scale shifts in sea-level pressure gradients. Periods of persistent zonal and meridional winds result in colder and presumably nutrient-rich waters being driven closer to southern Australia, resulting in increased biological activity in the water column during the spring months. These observations suggest that large-scale climatic events provide a powerful distal influence on the propensity for whales to strand in this region. These patterns provide a powerful quantitative framework for testing hypotheses regarding environmental links to strandings and provide managers with a potential predictive tool to prepare for years of peak stranding activity. � 2005 The Royal Society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)147-150
    Number of pages4
    JournalBiology Letters
    Volume1
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2005

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    Evans, K., Thresher, R., Warneke, R., Bradshaw, C., Pook, M., Thiele, D., & HINDELL, M. (2005). Periodic variability in cetacean strandings: links to large-scale climate events. Biology Letters, 1(2), 147-150.