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Memory and resource tracking drive blue whale migrations

figure from paper
Mar 1 2019

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Briana Abrahms, Elliott L. Hazen, Ellen O. Aikens, Matthew S. Savoca, Jeremy A. Goldbogen, Steven J. Bograd, Michael G. Jacox, Ladd M. Irvine, Daniel M. Palacios, and Bruce R. Mate

PNAS published ahead of print February 25, 2019 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1819031116

Significance
The causes and consequences of animal migration have received substantial research attention, yet the mechanisms underlying this global phenomenon remain largely untested in marine systems. By combining 10 years of satellite tracking data on blue whales with simultaneous remotely-sensed oceanographic measurements in the North Pacific, we demonstrate that both long-term memory and resource tracking play key roles in the long-distance migrations of marine megafauna. These findings have important implications for long-lived species across systems and taxa, as long-range migrants conditioned by historical environmental processes may struggle in response to rapid environmental change. Finally, our study reveals that ecological theory of animal migrations is conserved across marine and terrestrial systems.