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Population size, survival and reproductive rates of northern Norwegian killer whales (Orcinus orca) in 1986-2003

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Abstract

A long-term photo-identification study of killer whales (Orcinus orca) in northern Norway was initiated in 1986, when their prey the Norwegian spring-spawning herring (Clupea harengus) started to winter in a complex fjord system. The aim of this work was to estimate population size and apparent survival rates in this killer whale population using photo-identification and mark–recapture techniques with data collected during October–December 1986–2003. Total population size was estimated to be highest in 2003: 731 individuals (SE = 139, 95% CI = 505–1059) using a model taking heterogeneity of capture probabilities into account. Apparent survival of adult males and adult females was estimated using the Cormack–Jolly–Seber model as 0.971 (SE = 0.008) and 0.977 (SE = 0.009), respectively. Calving intervals ranged from 3 to 14 years (mean = 5.06, SE = 0.722). These are the first estimates of northern Norwegian killer whale population parameters, allowing their dynamics to be investigated and comparisons to be made with killer whale populations globally.
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1277-1291
JournalJournal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
Volume94
Issue number6
Early online date7 Aug 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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