We are excited to have joined forces with the Northern New Zealand Seabird Trust (https://www.nzseabirdtrust.com/) to study cetacean-seabird associations off north-eastern New Zealand. In particular, we will be examining associations between false killer whales, pilot whales, and various Procellariiforms such as the endemic black petrel (Procellaria parkinsoni).
While the function and extent of these interactions remain virtually unstudied and may vary between the different taxa, a multi-species foraging relationship seems likely. Our ongoing false killer and pilot whale projects have revealed an important foraging relationship with the vulnerable endemic black petrel during their breeding. While black petrels migrate to the eastern Pacific post-breeding, the whale and dolphin cold season distributions and association patterns remain unknown.
The proposed project aims to investigate the inter-relatedness of these associating species’ ecological requirements to better understand their vulnerability to environmental changes such as fluctuations in prey abundance and distribution. The projectwill assess diet and range dynamics of these associating species to identify critical habitat, as well as possible variations in the extent and the function(s) of these associations. Results will facilitate a greater understanding of the species’ interconnectedness to better inform ecosystem-based conservation management.