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Whales, Whaling, and Ocean Ecosystems$
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James Estes

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780520248847

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520248847.001.0001

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Sperm Whales in Ocean Ecosystems

Sperm Whales in Ocean Ecosystems

(p.324) Twenty-Five Sperm Whales in Ocean Ecosystems
Whales, Whaling, and Ocean Ecosystems


University of California Press

This chapter describes the ecology of the sperm whale, Physeter macrocephalus. It describes the trophic web surrounding the sperm whale with the goal of addressing three questions: How are sperm whale populations regulated? How do sperm whales affect other elements of the marine environment? How has sperm whaling affected marine ecosystems? In describing sperm whale ecology, it summarizes what people know of sperm whale prey, competitors, life history, and predators and tries to evaluate both the bottom-up (through competition for prey) and top-down (through predation by orcas) hypotheses for the natural regulation of populations. Whaling certainly affected sperm whale populations, and the chapter summarizes this huge enterprise and considers the potential effects of the killing of so many sperm whales on other elements of the ecosystem.

Keywords:   Physeter macrocephalus, marine environment, sperm whaling, sperm whale biology

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