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Ecology and Conservation of Marine Mammals 
University of La Rochelle




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RESEARCH

in Marine Mammal Ecology

Interactions between marine mammals and their resources and habitats are investigated both at individual and population levels, individual processes being considered as constituting elements of population processes.

Individual strategies of habitat and trophic resources use are analyzed by means of telemetry for investigating movements and activity budgets of marine mammals. They are interpreted in the context of the optimal foraging theory, incorporating previous knowledge on preferred prey and energetic cost-benefit analysis of predation. Social processes are also considered as integral parts of individual strategies; nature and duration of inter-individual associations are studied by using photo-identification methods and a genetic analysis of kinship relationships within groups.


At the population levels, investigations use both direct and indirect approaches. Direct observations of at-sea distributions are analyzed in relation to physiographic, oceanographic or biological characteristics of the environment, whereas direct analysis of marine mammal food allows preferred prey species and sizes to be quantified, two key elements for modeling the role of marine mammals in the ecosystem. Indirect approaches rely on the analysis of chemical tracers that reveal the use of certain habitats or resources (stable isotopes, fatty acids, heavy metals,..), in tissues which turn-over rates determine the width of the temporal window at which information is integrated. These indirect approaches contribute to understanding population structures that are relevant to ecological processes.


INDIVIDUAL STRATEGIES


Elemental constituant of the population processes
ROLE IN ECOSYSTEM


Understanding habitat and resource utilization pattern by populations
TRACERS OF POPULATION STRUCTURE


Identify population structures related to ecological processes

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