Biology ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 12-12-2021


Sequential subsampling of blue whale baleen plates can yield information of individual migratory plasticity of this endangered species in the northeast Pacific Ocean. We measured δ13C and δ15N isotope values along baleen from thirteen whales of different age and sex. Results showed sex/age-specific migratory strategies. Adult females exhibited relatively stable cyclical movements between temperate and subtropical regions. Adult males exhibited two strategies, most remained within temperate latitudes, whereas two migrated to subtropical latitudes. Movement patterns in juveniles were erratic. These patterns are potentially driven by energetic requirements of females, intraspecific competitions among adult males, and inexperience in locating prey in juveniles. δ15N patterns in young whales reflected the weaning period, while δ13C data suggest whales continue to use stored nutrients acquired during the nursing period long after they are weaned. These results broaden our understanding of habitat selection in this species, such information is useful for designing population-specific management plans.


whales, baleen, blue, isotopes, nitrogen, carbon

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Biology Department

First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Seth Newsome

Second Committee Member

Dr. Geraldine Busquets-Vass

Third Committee Member

Dr. Blair Wolf

Included in

Biology Commons