05 September 2011

What sperm whales prefer

Sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus habitat preferences are still poorly understood in the Mediterranean, despite the population being classified as ‘endangered’ by the IUCN. In a new paper authored by Tethys' collaborator Enrico Pirotta, a technique, making use of multiple data sources, helped to shed light on sperm whale habitat preference in such a critical area. The results suggest that sperm whales do not use the region uniformly and that topography plays a key role in shaping their distribution. Moreover, solitary individuals were found to use the habitat differently from groups. This segregation appeared to be driven by water temperature and might reflect different needs or intraspecific competition.

Pirotta, E., Matthiopoulos, J., MacKenzie, M., Scott-Hayward, L., Rendell, L. 2011. Modelling sperm whale habitat preference: a novel approach combining transect and follow data. Marine Ecology Progress Series 436: 257-272.

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