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Evaluating impacts of human activities on marine ecosystems is difficult when effects occur out of plain sight. Oil spill severity is often measured by the number of marine birds and mammals killed, but only a small fraction of carcasses are recovered. The Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was the largest in the U.S. history, but some(More)
Telomeres, the protective cap of chromosomes, have emerged as powerful markers of biological age and life history in model and non-model species. The qPCR method for telomere length estimation is one of the most common methods for telomere length estimation, but has received recent critique for being too error-prone and yielding unreliable results. This(More)
Age is a fundamental aspect of animal ecology, but is difficult to determine in many species. Humpback whales exemplify this as they have a lifespan comparable to humans, mature sexually as early as 4 years and have no reliable visual age indicators after their first year. Current methods for estimating humpback age cannot be applied to all individuals and(More)
Cultural transmission, the social learning of information or behaviors from conspecifics, is believed to occur in a number of groups of animals, including primates, cetaceans, and birds. Cultural traits can be passed vertically (from parents to offspring), obliquely (from the previous generation via a nonparent model to younger individuals), or horizontally(More)
Humpback whales have a continually evolving vocal sexual display, or "song," that appears to undergo both evolutionary and "revolutionary" change. All males within a population adhere to the current content and arrangement of the song. Populations within an ocean basin share similarities in their songs; this sharing is complex as multiple variations of the(More)
Seasonal feeding behavior and high fidelity to feeding areas allow humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) to be used as biological indicators of regional contamination. Biopsy blubber samples from male individuals (n = 67) were collected through SPLASH, a multinational research project, in eight North Pacific feeding grounds. Additional male samples (n =(More)
Genetic identification of individuals is now commonplace, enabling the application of tagging methods to elusive species or species that cannot be tagged by traditional methods. A key aspect is determining the number of loci required to ensure that different individuals have non-matching multi-locus genotypes. Closely related individuals are of particular(More)
Microbes are now well regarded for their important role in mammalian health. The microbiology of skin--a unique interface between the host and environment--is a major research focus in human health and skin disorders, but is less explored in other mammals. Here, we report on a cross-population study of the skin-associated bacterial community of humpback(More)
For cetaceans, population structure is traditionally determined by molecular genetics or photographically identified individuals. Acoustic data, however, has provided information on movement and population structure with less effort and cost than traditional methods in an array of taxa. Male humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) produce a continually(More)