- Krahn, M.M., Herman, D.P., Matkin, C.O., Durban, J.W., Barrett-Lennard, L.G., Burrows, D.G., Dalheim, M.E., Black, N., LeDuc, R.G., Wade, P.R subm. Use of chemical profiles in assessing the feeding ecology of eastern North Pacific killer whales. Marine Environmental Research
- Barrett-Lennard, L.G., Heise, K in press. The Natural History and Ecology of Killer Whales: Foraging Specialization in a Generalist Predator. Whales, whaling and ocean ecosystems
- Matkin, C.O., Barrett-Lennard, L.G., Yurk, H., Ellifrit, D, Trites, A.W in press. Ecotypic Variation and Predatory Behavior of Killer Whales in the Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska. Fisheries Bulletin
- Herman, D.P., Burrows, D.G., Wade, P.R., Durban, J.W. Matkin, C.O., LeDuc, R.G., Barrett-Lennard, L.G. Krahn, M.M 2005. Feeding ecology of eastern North Pacific killer whales from fatty acid, stable isotope, and organochlorine analyses of blubber biopsies. Marine Ecology Progress Series 302: 275-291
Adjunct Professor, Vancouver Aquarium
I am interested in the conservation of small populations, inter- and intra-specific variation in animal social systems, mechanisms of sympatric and parapatric speciation, the effects of competition and predation on population structure, and mechanisms and evolutionary consequences of cultural transmission in animals.
My own research is focused on a complex of sympatric and parapatric populations of killer whales off the west coast of British Columbia and Alaska. At least two sympatric ecotypes inhabit this part of the ocean: a fish-eating resident form and a mammal eating transient form. A third, poorly-described assemblage known as offshores inhabits the outer part of the continental shelf. Residents, transients and offshore killer whales have strikingly different population structures and social behaviours. Comparisons of the three forms provide great opportunities for examining how ecology shapes the cultural evolution of behaviours and social systems.
With a group of colleagues from Alaska, British Columbia, and France, I use custom-designed pneumatic darts to collect skin biopsies from photo-identified killer whales. Key findings based on the analysis of mitochondrial and nuclear (microsatellite) DNA from these samples are as follows: (1) residents and transients are discrete populations that are sufficiently genetically isolated to speciate sympatrically; (2) since the divergence of resident and transient lineages, each divided by fission into at least three genetically differentiated parapatric subpopulations; (3) acoustic repertoire similarity and relatedness of resident pods are strongly correlated, implying that new pods also arise by fission rather than by the coalescence of emigrants; (4) matings rarely if ever occur within resident pods, but instead occur during temporary associations between pods; (5) most matings occur between pods from different acoustic clans from the same subpopulation (an acoustic clan is a group of pods with similar vocal dialects); and (6) this mating pattern maintains low inbreeding levels in relation to the size of resident subpopulations.
I presently have two graduate students, Charissa Fung and Valeria Vergara. I am actively involved in field studies in Western Alaska and British Columbia in the summer months. DNA analysis is conducted at UBC\'s Genetic Data Centre, with the assistance of Allyson Miscampbell and Dr. Carol Ritland. When not in the field, I normally spend three-four days per week at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, where my time is divided between analysis, writing, and administration, and one-two days per week at UBC. Two of the main activities that run out of my lab at the Aquarium are the BC Cetacean Sightings Network (coordinated by Doug Sandilands and Nadine Pinnell) and the BC Wild Killer Whale Adoption Program (run by Judy McVeigh).