Dynamic Energy Budgets and Bioaccumulation: A Model for Marine Mammals and Marine Mammal Populations

Tin Klanjscek, Ph.D., 2006
Hal Caswell, Michael Neubert, Advisors

Energy intake of individuals affects growth of organisms and, therefore, populations. Persistent lipophilic toxicants acquired with the energy can bioaccumulate and harm individuals. Marine mammals are particularly vulnerable because of their large energy requirements, and transfer of energy and toxicants form mothers to their young during getstation and lactation. Dynamic energy budget (DEB) models for energy assimilation and utilization, coupled with pharmacokinetic models that calculate distribution of toxicants in individuals, can help investigate the vulnerability.

In this dissertation I develop the first individual DEB model tailored specifically to marine mammals and couple it to a pharmacokinetic model for lipophilic toxicants. I adapt the individual model to the right whale and use it to analyze consequences of energy availability on individual growth, reproduction, bioaccumulation, and transfer of toxicants between generations.

From the coupled model, I create an individual-based model (IBM) of a marine mammal population. I use it to investigate how interactions of food availability, exposure to toxicants, and maternal transfer of toxicants affect populations. I also present a method to create matrix population models from a general DEB model to alleviate some of the drawbacks of the IBM approach.