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Lipid and fatty acid profiles of migrating Southern Hemisphere humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae


Waugh, CA and Nichols, PD and Noad, MC and Nash, SB, Lipid and fatty acid profiles of migrating Southern Hemisphere humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae, Marine Ecology Progress Series, 471 pp. 271-281. ISSN 0171-8630 (2012) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2012 Inter-Research

DOI: doi:10.3354/meps10059


The lipid and fatty acid (FA) composition of the outer blubber layer was characterized in 46 east Australian migrating humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae. Samples were obtained at 2 time points of the annual migration, which occurs between Antarctic feeding grounds and low-latitude breeding grounds and is associated with a prolonged period of fasting. Blubber lipid composition was dominated by triacylglycerols in all individuals, and the FA profiles of both migration cohorts and sexes were dominated by monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA). Results indicate that males primarily mobilise polyunsaturated fatty acids in response to migration and fasting, favouring the most readily utilisable FA as governed by their physicochemical properties. In comparison, females appear to initially mobilise short-chain (<18 carbons) MUFA stores, potentially to attend to dependent calves' thermoregulatory needs. Feeding ecology investigations suggested that humpback whales have a species-specific FA composition of their blubber, including a detectable influence of their diet. This study provides the first insight into lipid and FA profiles of Southern Hemisphere humpback whales. A comprehensive understanding of FA dynamics, especially during times of energy deficit, is essential for understanding the nutritional status of Southern Hemisphere humpback whales and thereby the risks posed by growing environmental threats including toxic and persistent lipophilic pollutants.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:biopsy sampling, blubber, fatty acid, humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Zoology
Research Field:Animal physiology - systems
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Marine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Nichols, PD (Dr Peter Nichols)
ID Code:118931
Year Published:2012
Web of Science® Times Cited:32
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2017-07-24
Last Modified:2017-10-16
Downloads:115 View Download Statistics

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