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Killer whale ecotypes: is there a global model?
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  22882545     Owner:  NLM     Status:  Publisher    
Abstract/OtherAbstract:
Killer whales, Orcinus orca, are top predators occupying key ecological roles in a variety of ecosystems and are one of the most widely distributed mammals on the planet. In consequence, there has been significant interest in understanding their basic biology and ecology. Long-term studies of Northern Hemisphere killer whales, particularly in the eastern North Pacific (ENP), have identified three ecologically distinct communities or ecotypes in that region. The success of these prominent ENP studies has led to similar efforts at clarifying the role of killer whale ecology in other regions, including Antarctica. In the Southern Hemisphere, killer whales present a range of behavioural, social and morphological characteristics to biologists, who often interpret this as evidence to categorize individuals or groups, and draw general ecological conclusions about these super-predators. Morphologically distinct forms (Type A, B, C, and D) occur in the Southern Ocean and studies of these different forms are often presented in conjunction with evidence for specialised ecology and behaviours. Here we review current knowledge of killer whale ecology and ecotyping globally and present a synthesis of existing knowledge. In particular, we highlight the complexity of killer whale ecology in the Southern Hemisphere and examine this in the context of comparatively well-studied Northern Hemisphere populations. We suggest that assigning erroneous or prefatory ecotypic status in the Southern Hemisphere could be detrimental to subsequent killer whale studies, because unsubstantiated characteristics may be assumed as a result of such classification. On this basis, we also recommend that ecotypic status classification for Southern Ocean killer whale morphotypes be reserved until more evidence-based ecological and taxonomic data are obtained.
Authors:
P J Nico de Bruyn; Cheryl A Tosh; Aleks Terauds
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Publication Detail:
Type:  JOURNAL ARTICLE     Date:  2012-8-9
Journal Detail:
Title:  Biological reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society     Volume:  -     ISSN:  1469-185X     ISO Abbreviation:  Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc     Publication Date:  2012 Aug 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2012-8-13     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0414576     Medline TA:  Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc     Country:  -    
Other Details:
Languages:  ENG     Pagination:  -     Citation Subset:  -    
Copyright Information:
© 2012 The Authors. Biological Reviews © 2012 Cambridge Philosophical Society.
Affiliation:
Department of Zoology & Entomology, Mammal Research Institute, University of Pretoria, Private Bag X20, Hatfield 0028, South Africa Centre for Invasion Biology, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, South Africa.
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