Bernd Würsig

Bernd Würsig
Texas A&M University - Galveston | TAMUG · Department of Marine Biology

About

224
Publications
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Publications

Publications (224)
Chapter
Full-text available
Confronted with the ruinous consequences of human presence for Earth and its biodiversityBiodiversity, human societyHuman society starts to feel the imperative for acting to stem such consequences, and the accompanying loss of species. Here, we address the case of conservingConservingmarine mammalsMarine mammals, a group of species that have a spec...
Article
Full-text available
The vaquita (Phocoena sinus), an endemic porpoise of the Gulf of California, México, was first described scientifically in 1958, from three skulls. It is considered a sister taxon of an ancestor of the Southern Hemisphere Burmeister’s porpoise (P. spinipinnis) and spectacled porpoise (P. dioptrica), a case of antitropical distribution and speciatio...
Article
Full-text available
Construction-related loss of habitat, degradation of existing habitat, noise pollution, and vessel activity are growing issues for Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) that occur in the shallow, near-shore, highly industrialized waters off Lantau Island, Hong Kong. We studied the occurrence of dolphins in discrete locations, fine-scale...
Chapter
Bowhead whales ram feed by slowly moving forward, often termed skim feeding. This occurs at the surface, in the water column, and at the bottom, even to several hundred meters depth. Most feeding is on the smallest baleen whale food, calanoid copepods, but can also be on mysids, euphausiid crustaceans, and other densely swarming invertebrates. Whil...
Article
A fundamental understanding of the impact of petrochemicals and other stressors on marine biodiversity is critical for effective management, restoration, recovery, and mitigation initiatives. As species-specific information on levels of petrochemical exposure and toxicological response are lacking for the majority of marine species, a trait-based a...
Article
Few studies have explored the mating patterns of free‐ranging cetaceans, largely because of logistical challenges. We used an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to follow and video‐record 25 groups of mating dusky dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) near the surface of the water and examine how behavior patterns varied with mating group type. We collecte...
Chapter
The odontocetes—especially the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) and delphinids (family Delphinidae)—have been the subjects of much attention by ancient to modern cultures, exemplified well by Herman Melville’s writings of the 1850s. Most odontocetes have multilayered sophisticated societies, probably relying much on living together for several...
Article
Full-text available
Sexual selection influences both genital diversity and mating behaviors, yet the integrated coevolution of pre- (behavioral) and postcopulatory (anatomical) traits in both sexes has received little attention. Traits could potentially evolve through an arms race model of escalations in male persistence and female resistance, and/or through a tradeof...
Book
This book concentrates on the marine mammalian group of Odontocetes the toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises. In 23 chapters, a total of 40 authors describe general patterns of ethological concepts of odontocetes in their natural environments, with a strong bent towards behavioral ecology. Examples are given of particularly well-studied species...
Article
Multiple concurrent approaches are often useful for investigating cetacean occurrence and behavioral patterns. For example, underwater passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) can document spatial and temporal patterns and variability in cetacean vocalizations, while visual observations at the sur-face can provide information on group size and composition...
Article
The challenges of monitoring fully aquatic and long-living mammals have limited research on cetaceans that spans several decades to only a few populations. We report the first long-term assessment of association and residency patterns of dusky dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) offKaikoura, New Zealand. Dorsal fin images, spanning 30 years of data...
Article
Risso's dolphin (Risso's; Grampus griseus) behavior is little described given their typical offshore distribution where research access is inherently challenging. We conducted focal group behavior follows of 51 Risso's groups from a circling, small, fixed-wing Partenavia aircraft in the Southern California Bight from 2008 through 2012 (15 aerial su...
Article
In the early 1970s, Roger Payne and colleagues developed a non-invasive, shore-based method for collecting data on free-ranging marine mammals in their natural environments. By using a theodolite, or surveyor’s transit, they were able to collect data on nearshore marine mammal movement patterns, habitat use, and behavior without any disruption to t...
Article
There were several wonderful figurative shoul-ders that lent inspiring views to my life. A select few belong to, in order of appearance, my papa Gerhard Würsig, Roy Tassava of Ohio State University, Charlie Walcott of Cornell University, Roger Payne then of Rockefeller University, and Ken Norris of University of California Santa Cruz. The shoulder...
Preprint
Sexual selection influences both genital diversity and mating behaviors, yet the integrated coevolution of pre- (behavioral) and postcopulatory (anatomical) traits in both sexes has received little attention. Traits could potentially evolve through an arms race model of escalations in male persistence and female resistance, and/or through a tradeof...
Chapter
I. Characteristics and Taxonomy; II Distribution and Abundance; III Ecology; IV Behavior and Physiology; V. Life History; VI. Interactions with Humans.
Article
Full-text available
In mammals, lactation can be the most energetically expensive part of the reproductive cycle. Thus, when energy needs are compromised due to predation risk, environmental disturbance, or resource scarcity, future reproductive success can be impacted. In marine and terrestrial environments, foraging behavior is inextricably linked to predation risk....
Article
Full-text available
Male genital diversification is likely the result of sexual selection. Female genital diversification may also result from sexual selection, although it is less well studied and understood. Female genitalia are complex among whales, dolphins, and porpoises, especially compared to other vertebrates. The evolutionary factors affecting the diversity o...
Chapter
Recorded knowledge of marine mammals of the Gulf began with commercial whaling of sperm whales, short-finned pilot whales, and Risso’s dolphins in the 1700s and 1800s, progressed to natural history observations and one of the first volunteer stranding organizations, the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, in the 1970s. The vegetarian sirenian, t...
Data
Regression of cumulative vaginal fold length on number of vaginal folds. The non-phylogenetically controlled residuals of cumulative vaginal fold length on total body length were used. The solid black line indicates the line of best-fit from a phylogenetic reduced major axis regression (R2 = 0.113, t = 10.997, df = 19, P < 0.01). (TIF)
Data
Counts and measurements of the specimens. Measurements were not scaled by body length. The U.S. state (or country for New Zealand) where each specimen stranded is listed. The median is listed in parentheses when it varies from the mean. (DOCX)
Article
Full-text available
During early developmental stages, cetacean calves are dependent on their mothers for survival. Protection of young whales engaged in behaviors that are biologically important is critical for population recovery, so that appropriate management actions can be taken to minimize human disturbance. However, the occurrence and frequency of whale nursing...
Article
Many coastal delphinids exhibit social structures with a high degree of fission-fusion dynamics. However, little is known about fission-fusion dynamics in semipelagic delphinids such as dusky dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus). We analyzed dusky dolphin social structure in a winter foraging habitat in New Zealand. We examined the population-level s...
Article
Long-term passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) was conducted to study Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, Sousa chinensis, as part of environmental impact assessments for several major coastal development projects in Hong Kong waters north of Lantau Island. Ecological acoustic recorders obtained 2711 days of recording at 13 sites from December 2012 to Dec...
Article
Full-text available
North Atlantic humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae (Borowski, 1781)) are increasing in number, necessitating current data from winter areas for assessing potential interactions with humans. Occurrence patterns of humpback whales wintering off Puerto Rico were investigated to predict where whales aggregate in nearshore areas. Here we describe th...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In the Gulf of Corinth (GOC), a 2,400 km2 semi-­enclosed embayment in Greece, three odontocete species occur within 11 km of the nearest coast. Striped dolphins Stenella coeruleoalba are abundant (1,420 animals, 95%CI 1,275-­1,566) and live in mixed groups with 26 short-­‐beaked common dolphins Delphinus delphis (95%CI 13-­39) and 58 individuals of...
Article
Cetaceans exhibit vaginal folds, unusual protrusions of the vaginal wall into the vaginal lumen. Inconsistent terminology and a lack of anatomical landmarks in the literature have hindered comparative studies of the form and function of vaginal folds. Our objectives are to: 1) develop a standardized measurement protocol for the reproductive tracts...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Association patterns of North Atlantic humpback whales (NAHW) (Megaptera novaeangliae) off western Puerto Rico were examined to help understand importance of a low density wintering area adjacent to the high density of humpback whales off the Dominican Republic. Data were collected during winters 2011-2014 from multiple platforms. A total of 241 ho...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
North Atlantic humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) (NAHW) migrate to the West Indies to areas where recreational and commercial activities overlap. It is important to predict where whales aggregate, especially as NAHW are presently considered for delisting as endangered by the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, and increased interactions...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
North Atlantic humpback whales (NAHW) migrate between feeding grounds and breeding/calving grounds, with most individuals aggregating off the Dominican Republic in winter. Smaller areas throughout the West Indies have fewer individuals and it is possible that these areas were once densely populated, or that they serve another important function in...
Chapter
Humpback dolphins (genus Sousa) use shallow, near-shore waters throughout their range. This coastal distribution makes them vulnerable to recreational and commercial disturbances, especially near heavily populated and industrialized areas. Most research focusing on Sousa and human activities has emphasized direct impacts and threats, involving inju...
Article
Full-text available
When males engage in scramble competition, are females non-evasive recipients of male coercion or evasive? Small groups of male dusky dolphins ( Lagenorhynchus obscurus) engage in exploitative (non-interference) scramble competition for access to oestrous females near Kaikoura, New Zealand. We conducted behavioural sequence analyses of videos of 48...
Article
Full-text available
Males in polygamous species often engage in intrasexual competition for mates. If females actively evade mating attempts, it may benefit males to cooperate to restrict female movement, as has been found in some mammals. We tested if male dusky dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus (Gray, 1828)) cooperate or compete during group mating chases. If they c...
Article
Despite logistical challenges that limit direct observations of behavior for some species, physical scars can provide indirect evidence of aggression. Dusky dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus (Gray, 1828)) off Kaikoura, New Zealand, derive most of the notches and scars on their dorsal fins from conspecifics. However, aggressive encounters have rarel...
Poster
Full-text available
Santostasi N.L., Bearzi G., Bonizzoni S., Bosquez J., Da Silveira M.F., Marcum E., Piwetz S., Würsig B. 2015. Building a historic Texas bottlenose dolphin photo-identification catalog. Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Marine Mammal Symposium (SEAMAMMS), Virginia Beach, VA, March 27-29, 2015.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Finfish farms (FF) are known to aggregate wild fish, primarily because of large quantities of uneaten food lost from the cages. Complex substrate, increased nutrient levels and provision of fish-feed produce trophic enrichment and can attract dolphin prey. Common bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus were observed foraging in the proximity of FF i...
Chapter
Full-text available
Fewer than 200 Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) occur in Hong Kong waters (though these are part of a much larger population in the Pearl River Estuary), with a decrease in the past about 10 years. They have partially overlapping individual ranges (mean=100km2), and two partially overlapping communities. Seasonal occurrence is highe...
Presentation
Full-text available
The narrow (from 370m to 950m wide) 6.5km long Galveston Ship Channel (GSC) is a congested waterway that supports large-scale shipping, commercial fishing, dolphin tourism, and recreation where human activity and common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) converge with potentially negative consequences. Elevated land-based tracking was conduct...
Conference Paper
The narrow (370m to 950m wide) 6.5km long Galveston Ship Channel (GSC) is a congested waterway that supports large-scale shipping, commercial fishing, dolphin tourism, and recreation where human activity and common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) converge with potentially negative consequences. Elevated land-based tracking of dolphins and...
Article
Full-text available
1. Common bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus interact with fish farms in the Mediterranean Sea. These interactions were investigated in a Greek bay by incorporating multiple geographic, bathymetric, oceanographic, and anthropogenic variables. 2. Generalized additive models (GAMs) and generalized estimation equations (GEEs) were used to describe...
Chapter
Full-text available
Dusky dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) exhibit fission–fusion dynamics as individuals join and split from groups of two to several thousand individuals. During the past three decades, our studies of dusky dolphins in three distinct marine systems have revealed how habitat type, predation risk, and prey availability influence foraging and social s...
Chapter
Among mammals, associations of two or more species are likely to involve taxa that are also gregarious intraspecifically, such as primates and delphinids. Although these two groups generally differ in habitat, diet, and the stability of their social units, they share mixed-species association as a conspicuous aspect of their behavior. We compare th...
Article
Leaping is a highly conspicuous behavior in cetaceans that may function in cooperative hunting and social bonding, thereby converging with forms of intra-specific communication present in other social mammals. However, few studies have analyzed the ontogeny of leaping, an important aspect in determining the adaptive significance of this behavior. T...
Article
Full-text available
In fission–fusion social systems with scramble competition between males, multiple males join mating groups while surrounding an oestrous female. If male decisions to join a mating group have been shaped by natural selection, then there should be an optimal group size resulting from the trade-offs between the benefits of monopolizing a female in sm...
Poster
Full-text available
Bonizzoni S., Santostasi N.L., Würsig B., Bearzi G. 2014. Bottlenose dolphin abundance in the Northern Evoikos Gulf, Greece. Proceedings of the 28th Annual Conference of the European Cetacean Society. Liège, Belgium, 5–9 April 2014.
Article
Full-text available
The Social Brain (or Social Intelligence) hypothesis is a very influential theory that ties brain size and, by extension, cognitive ability to the demands of obligate and intense sociality. Initially developed to explain primate brain size evolution, the Social Brain hypothesis has since been applied to a diverse array of other social taxa, both ma...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Effects of mixed-species associations (MSA [at least two different species swimming together and/or interacting]) on cetacean behavior rarely have been quantified, but are important for identifying and differentiating potential anthropogenic impacts. Baseline marine mammal behavior was assessed during 83,005 km of U.S. Navy supported aerial line-tr...
Chapter
Behavioral research and analysis is prone to both error and bias, particularly in the early stages of a discipline, in part because it is widely (and erroneously) believed that “behavior” is rather simple and can be easily described or quantified. However, since the 1970s for terrestrial animals, and since the late 1990s for marine mammals, systema...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Rapid progress and affordability of photographic technology with increasing improvements in image resolution have facilitated advancements in efficiency and alternative approaches in data collection for marine mammals. We report these recent improvements by comparing marine mammal photographs taken during 2008-2013 aerial surveys of 16 marine mamma...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The behavioral ecology of offshore delphinids and baleen whales is poorly known. A comparative approach was used to assess group size and behavior versus risks/rewards of group living in the Southern California Bight, U.S. Scan sampling/photographs/video documented first-observed group size, behavior state, and group cohesion (i.e., maximum nearest...
Article
Full-text available
Cetacean-oriented tourism has experienced rapid growth in the last two decades, accompanied by increasing concerns about the effects of tourism on target species. Here, we used shore-based observations of dusky dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) groups near Kaikoura, New Zealand, and generalised additive models to quantify changes in group speed, re...
Article
Full-text available
Some predators face the problem of locating and capturing foods while at the same time avoiding a number of environmental hazards and even predation on themselves. These challenges can be more extreme for some species than for others (Raubenheimer 2010). For example, a number of marine predators forage specifically within the air-water interface (T...
Article
Full-text available
The surfacing, respiration and diving (SRD) behavior of bowhead whales Balaena mysticetus changes upon exposure to seismic operations. However, it is unknown whether these changes differ by season, reproductive status (calves, mothers, and non-calves), and whale activity (traveling, foraging, or socializing). Such SRD behavioral responses to seismi...
Article
We characterized dusky dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) feeding behaviors recorded on underwater video, and related behaviors to variation in prey ball sizes, dolphin group sizes, and study site (Argentina vs. New Zealand, NZ). Herding behaviors most often involved dolphins swimming around the side or under prey balls, but dolphins in Argentina mo...
Poster
Full-text available
Bonizzoni S., Furey N., Pirotta E., Valavanis V.D., Würsig B., Bearzi G. 2013. Modelling interactions between fish farms and bottlenose dolphins in a Mediterranean embayment. Proceedings of the 27th Annual Conference of the European Cetacean Society. Setúbal, Portugal, 8–10 April 2013.
Article
Guidelines for sustainable tourism involving swimming with large whales are not well-developed compared to those focused on programs of swimming with delphinids. From September to November 2005 and August to September 2006, we collected behavioral and movement data for southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) exposed to interactions with boats a...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Fifteen aerial surveys (72,467 km) occurred during 2008-2012 to monitor occurrence, abundance, and behavior of marine mammals in the Southern California Bight (SCB) on behalf of the U.S. Navy. Thirty-six (2%) of 2,151 total sightings of at least 11 species were mixed-species associations (i.e., at least two different species swimming together/inter...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Seismic survey sounds are known to alter the diving behaviour of bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus), which in turn will influence the probability of detecting whales during aerial surveys. The consequences of altered detectability on assessments of distribution and abundance of bowhead whales are not well understood. Altered detectability could le...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Marine mammal seasonal density, abundance, behavior and habitat-use patterns were monitored off southern California 2008-2012 during 15 aerial surveys for the U.S. Navy. Line-transect, scan sampling, and focal follows occurred using video/photography. During 72,467 km of effort (99% Beaufort ≤4), ~190,310 individuals were seen in 2,151 groups (19+...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Correspondences: thomas.f.norris@bio-waves.net GOALS • To integrate real-time visual and acoustic data collection and post-analysis of marine mammal behaviors. • To obtain new information about acoustic behaviors in relation to surface behaviors, conspecifics, and anthropogenic activities. • To refine sonobuoy array data processing methods to bette...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Baseline undisturbed behavior and social patterns of blue (Balaenoptera musculus) and fin whales (B. physalus) are not well described and are needed to identify and understand potential effects of anthropogenic activities in the SCB. In 2008-2012, 72,467 km of aerial line transect and focal-follow effort was conducted in the SCB. Initially observed...