I started my Ph.D. in September 2008 in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Manitoba, working with Steven Ferguson (Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Winnipeg). My research focuses on determining seasonal diet and habitat use of three eastern Canadian Arctic whale species (killer whales, Orcinus orca, beluga whales, Delphinapterus leucas, and bowhead whales, Balaena mysticetus) using microchemistry (stable nitrogen and carbon isotope ratios and trace elements) of teeth and baleen. Focal species provide interesting comparisons in terms of trophic level and seasonal prey abundance (bowhead feed on zooplankton, beluga feed on fish/large invertebrates, and killer whales feed on fish/marine mammals), suitable habitat (bowhead and beluga tolerate sea ice, whereas killer whales do not), and life history and social structure (bowhead and beluga segregate spatially by sex). Objectives include: 1) defining important habitat for each species by determining dietary patterns across their annual range (i.e., when individuals acquire greatest food intake); 2) determining diet (killer whales); 3) identifying links between dietary/migration patterns with environmental variation; 4) assessing feeding or migration patterns with life history stage (e.g., subadult vs. adult); 5) examining resource partitioning between different segments of same populations with different habitat use (e.g., females vs. males).
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