Publication Date: 2016.
Península Valdés (PV) is the most austral calving ground for the SW Atlantic population of Eubalaena australis. Recent studies indicate that E. australis often feeds in PV mainly in late September and October. A microscopic analysis of food chitin remains found in five whale faeces was performed in the present study in an attempt to obtain baseline knowledge about trophic ecology and degree of use of plankton food available for whales in PV during spring (September-December). The remains in faeces from stranded and live individuals included copepods, other zooplankton and centric diatoms, all of which were characterized. Copepod remains were found to be dominant. Scanning electron and confocal laser scanning microscopes were used for comparative analyses between the mandibular gnathobases found in whale faeces and those obtained from preserved specimens. Mandibular gnathobases were the same in structure and morphometry as those obtained from preserved Calanus australis (copepodites 4-6). The positive relationship observed between the total length and width of the mandibular gnathobases edge of C. australis and those found in faeces allowed us to infer the developmental stages of the copepods ingested by E. australis. Our results indicate - for the first time - the relevant role of C. australis copepodite 5 as main prey for E. australis in PV during the calving season. Copepodite 5 of C. australis accumulates energy-rich lipids. This is energetically attractive for whales and it is the potential reason why E. australis feeds mainly on dense patches dominated by this developmental stage of C. australis.
Author affiliation: D'agostino, Valeria Carina. Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas. Centro Nacional Patagónico; Argentina
Author affiliation: Hoffmeyer, Monica Susana. Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas. Centro Científico Tecnológico Conicet - Bahía Blanca. Instituto Argentino de Oceanografía. Universidad Nacional del Sur. Instituto Argentino de Oceanografía; Argentina. Universidad Tecnológica Nacional. Facultad Regional Bahía Blanca; Argentina
Author affiliation: Degrati, Mariana. Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas. Centro Nacional Patagónico; Argentina. Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia; Argentina
Repository: CONICET Digital (CONICET). Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas