Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Gauging allowable harm limits to cumulative, sub-lethal effects of human activities on wildlife: a case-study approach using two whale populations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

As sublethal human pressures on marine wildlife and their habitats increase and interact in complex ways, there is a pressing need for methods to quantify cumulative impacts of these stressors on populations, and policy decisions about allowable harm limits. Few studies quantify population consequences of individual stressors, and fewer quantify synergistic effects. Incorporating all sources of uncertainty can cause predictions to span the range from negligible to catastrophic. Two places were identified to bound this problem through energetic mechanisms that reduce prey available to individuals. First, the US Marine Mammal Protection Act's Potential Biological Removal (PBR) equation was used as a placeholder allowable harm limit to represent the number of animals that can be removed annually without depleting a population below agreed-upon management targets. That rephrased the research question from, “How big could cumulative impacts be?” to “How big would cumulative impacts have to be to exceed an agreed-upon threshold?” Secondly, two data-rich case studies, namely Gulf of Maine humpback and northeast Pacific resident killer whales, were used as examples to parameterize the weakest link, namely between prey availability and demography. Given no additional information, the model predicted that human activities need only reduce prey available to the killer whale population by ~10% to cause a population-level take, through reduced fecundity and/or survival, equivalent to PBR. By contrast, in the humpback population, reduction in prey availability of ~50% was needed to cause a similar, PBR-sized effect. The paper describes an approach – results are merely illustrative. The two case studies differ in prey specialization, life history, and, no doubt, proximity to carrying capacity. This method of inverting the problem refocuses discussions around what the level of prey depletion – via competition with commercial fisheries, displacement from feeding areas through noise-generating activities, or acoustic masking of signals used to detect prey – would have to occur to exceed allowable harm limits set for lethal takes in fisheries or other, more easily quantifiable, human activities.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-64
Number of pages7
JournalMarine Policy
Volume70
Early online date29 Apr 2016
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2016

    Research areas

  • Allowable harm limits, Cumulative impact, Industrialization, Marine mammal, Ocean, Population dynamics, Whale

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Whale distribution in a breeding area: spatial models of habitat use and abundance of western South Atlantic humpback whales

    Bortolotto, G. A., Danilewicz, D., Hammond, P. S., Thomas, L. J. & Zerbini, A. N. 27 Dec 2017 In : Marine Ecology Progress Series. 585, p. 213-227

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Extinction is imminent for Mexico’s endemic porpoise unless fishery bycatch is eliminated

    Taylor, B. L., Rojas-Bracho, L., Moore, J., Jaramillo-Legorreta, A., Ver Hoef, J. M., Cardenas-Hinojosa, G., Nieto-Garcia, E., Barlow, J., Gerrodette, T., Tregenza, N., Thomas, L. & Hammond, P. S. 12 Oct 2017 In : Conservation Letters. 10, 5, p. 588-595 8 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

  3. Impacts of anthropogenic noise on marine life: publication patterns, new discoveries, and future directions in research and management

    Williams, R., Wright, A. J., Ashe, E., Blight, LK., Bruintjes, R., Canessa, R., Clark, CW., Cullis-Suzuki, S., Dakin, DT., Erbe, C., Hammond, P. S., Merchant, MD., O'Hara, PD., Purser, J., Radford, AN., Simpson, SD., Thomas, L. & Wale, MA. Oct 2015 In : Ocean and Coastal Management. 115, p. 17-24

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Global analysis of cetacean line-transect surveys: detecting trends in cetacean density

    Jewell, R. L., Thomas, L., Harris, C. M., Kaschner, K., Wiff, R. A., Hammond, P. S. & Quick, N. J. 7 May 2012 In : Marine Ecology Progress Series. 453, p. 227-240

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Marine Policy (Journal)

    Stojanovic, T. (Member of editorial board)
    2 Jul 2015 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workEditor of research journal

Related by journal

  1. AIS data to inform small scale fisheries management and marine spatial planning

    James, M., Mendo, T., Jones, E. L., Orr, K., Mcknight, A. & Thompson, J. May 2018 In : Marine Policy. 91, p. 113-121

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Framework for mapping key areas for marine megafauna to inform Marine Spatial Planning: the Falkland Islands case study

    Augé, A. A. , Dias, M. P. , Lascelles, B. , Baylis, A. M. M. , Black, A. , Boersma, P. D. , Catry, P. , Crofts, S. , Galimberti, F. , Granadeiro, J. P. , Hedd, A. , Ludynia, K. , Masello, J. F. , Montevecchi, W. , Phillips, R. A. , Pütz, K. , Quillfeldt, P. , Rebstock, G. A. , Sanvito, S. , Staniland, I. J. & 5 others Stanworth, A., Thompson, D., Tierney, M., Trathan, P. N. & Croxall, J. P. Jun 2018 In : Marine Policy. 92, p. 61-72

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Making better decisions: Utilizing qualitative signed digraphs modeling to enhance aquaculture production technology selection

    King, A. S., Elliott, N. G., Macleod, C. K., James, M. A. & Dambacher, J. M. May 2018 In : Marine Policy. 91, p. 22-33 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Communicating research on the economic valuation of coastal and marine ecosystem services

    Torres, C. & Hanley, N. Jan 2017 In : Marine Policy. 75, p. 99-107 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. Estimating the Irish public's willingness to pay for more sustainable salmon produced by integrated multi-trophic aquaculture

    van Osch, S., Hynes, S., O’Higgins, T., Hanley, N., Campbell, D. & Freeman, S. Oct 2017 In : Marine Policy. 84, p. 220-227 8 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 242338792