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Identifying Social Clusters of Endangered Main Hawaiian Islands False Killer Whales

August 05, 2023

In this study, we used photo-identification data over a 23 year period to reassess the number and membership of social clusters for false killer whales.

The presence of distinct social groups within an animal population can result in diversity in many aspects of its life history and ecology. The ability to accurately assess social group membership increases with the number of times individuals are identified, but obtaining sufficient sightings of rarely encountered species can be difficult. Three social clusters were previously identified for the endangered population of false killer whales Pseudorca crassidens around the main Hawaiian Islands, using  associations within a 12 yr photographic dataset with no restrictions on the number of times seen. This level of clustering and associated diversity within the population may have implications for mark-recapture abundance estimation, as well as for mitigating exposure to anthropogenic activities, including interactions with fisheries.

Mahaffy SD, Baird RW, Harnish AE, Cullins T, Stack SH, Currie JJ, Bradford AL, Salden DR, Martien KK. (2023) Identifying social clusters of endangered main Hawaiian Islands false killer whales. Endang Species Res 51:249-268. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr01258

Last updated by Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center on 08/14/2023