Patterns of predator-prey dynamics between gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) and mysid species in Clayoquot Sound

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R. Burnham
D. Duffus

Abstract

The patterns of foraging intensity of gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) over a 17-year period (1997–2013) in Clayoquot Sound, Vancouver Island
are examined. In this area, epibenthic mysid species are gray whales’ primary prey. The analysis indicates a top-down modification on habitat
quality by this apex predator. Intense foraging in one or two summer season contributes to reduced prey resources available in the following summer.
Years of heavy predation pressure were followed by at least one year of reduced foraging, probably allowing a reprieve in which the mysids could
repopulate. Over the time span several patterns were noted including: boom-bust cycles; extended periods of reduced foraging; an overall declining
trend of foraging whales using Clayoquot Sound, followed by a significant prey recovery in 2010. Life history patterns of mysids are discussed in
the context of their ability to recover from predation, and how this recovery during a reprieve may buffer the intensity of foraging from the previous
year. The continuing ability of mysids to recover from repeated and persistent removal will determine the use of Clayoquot Sound as a gray whale
foraging area in the future.

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How to Cite
1.
Burnham R, Duffus D. Patterns of predator-prey dynamics between gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) and mysid species in Clayoquot Sound. JCRM [Internet]. 2023 Jan. 24 [cited 2023 Feb. 8];19(1):95-103. Available from: https://journal.iwc.int/index.php/jcrm/article/view/417
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