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Data from: Use of glacial fronts by narwhals (Monodon monoceros) in West Greenland

Citation

Laidre, Kristin L. et al. (2016), Data from: Use of glacial fronts by narwhals (Monodon monoceros) in West Greenland, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.ms812

Abstract

Glacial fronts are important summer habitat for narwhals (Monodon monoceros), however, no studies have quantified which glacial properties attract whales. We investigated the importance of glacial habitats using telemetry data from n=15 whales in September 1993-1994 and 2006-2007 in Melville Bay, West Greenland. For 41 marine-terminating glaciers, we estimated 1) narwhal presence/absence, 2) number of 24 h periods spent at glaciers, and 3) the fraction of narwhals that visited each glacier (at 5, 7, and 10 km) in autumn. We also compiled data on glacier width, ice thickness, ice velocity, front advance/retreat, area and extent of iceberg discharge, bathymetry, subglacial freshwater runoff, and sediment flux. Narwhal use of glacial habitats expanded in the 2000s likely due to reduced summer fast ice and later fall freeze-up. Using a generalized multivariate framework, glacier ice front thickness (vertical height in the water column) was a significant covariate in all models. A negative relationship with glacier velocity was included in several models and glacier front width was a significant predictor in the 2000s. Results suggest narwhals prefer glaciers with potential for higher ambient freshwater melt over glaciers with silt-laden discharge. This may represent a preference for summer freshwater habitat, similar to other Arctic monodontids.

Usage Notes

Location

Greenland