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Where is home? Using DNA profiling and spatial predictive models to assess the breeding ground origins of humpback whales in the eastern North Pacific

March 20, 2021 | 10:00 am - 11:00 am PDT

Cape Perpetua Fall Speaker Series

Enjoy a variety of free educational presentations hosted by the Cape Perpetua Collaborative. Guest speaker presentations will be held most Saturdays at 10:00am, from January 9 – March 27 (excluding holidays). Winter presentations will include a special focus on hiking, pinnipeds, beavers & climate change, old growth forest, humpback whales, juvenile fish and more! All events are free and held virtually on Zoom this season.

March 20 at 10:00am
Presenting Karen Lohman, Graduate Research Fellow at Oregon State University pursuing a master’s degree with Dr. Scott Baker and the Cetacean Conservation and Genomics Lab

Humpback whales, one of the most well-known summer visitors to the Oregon Coast, undertake a seasonal migration from equatorial winter breeding areas to summer feeding grounds. It is thought that humpback whales learn their migration route from their first journey with their mother and repeat that trip throughout their lives. This site fidelity has created a unique population structure where breeding populations of humpback whales are spatially and genetically distinct in the winter months but overlap or mix on shared feeding grounds in summer months.

In recent years, there has been a documented increase in the number of entangled humpback whales on the feeding grounds off the US West Coast. When in this area, humpback whales are subject to a tiered management strategy under both the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act. This has made understanding which breeding ground the feeding humpback whales are from, and to what degree the breeding populations are mixing is essential for management. Archived tissue samples and associated individual sighting histories collected over thirty-two years, we assess both the fine-scale fidelity of individual humpback whales to feeding grounds and develop spatial population assignment models to predict the seasonal distribution of breeding populations on the feeding grounds.


About the Presenter
Karen Lohman is a Graduate Research Fellow at Oregon State University pursuing a master’s degree with Dr. Scott Baker and the Cetacean Conservation and Genomics Lab, part of the Marine Mammal Institute. Karen graduated from Stony Brook University in 2013 with a BS in Biology and a Marine Science minor. Before settling intothe marine system, Karen worked on a wide variety of projects, including a study of Andean hummingbirds, rare vegetation surveys in the Great Basin Desert, small mammal work in the Rocky Mountain alpine, freshwater aquatics, and monitoring nesting sea turtles.


March 20, 2021
10:00 am - 11:00 am PDT
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