TitleAbundance of the New Zealand subantarctic southern right whale population estimated from photo-identification and genotype mark-recapture
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsCarroll, E, Patenaude, NJ, Childerhouse, S, Kraus, SD, Fewster, RM, C. Baker, S
JournalMarine Biology
Pagination2565 - 2575
Date Published11/2011

The abundance of New Zealand subantarctic southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) was estimated for the first time using mark-recapture methods based on photo-identification and microsatellite genotyping (13 loci). Individual identification photographs of 383 whales and microsatellite genotypes of 235 whales were collected during annual austral winter field surveys from 1995 to 1998. Given the 4-year survey period and lack of geographic and demographic closure, we estimated super-population abundance using the POPAN Jolly-Seber model implemented in the software programme MARK. Models with constant survivorship but time-varying capture probability and probability of entry into the population were the most suitable due to the survey design. This provided estimates of abundance in 1998 of 908 non-calf whales (95% C.L. = 755, 1,123) for the photo-identification and 910 non-calf whales (95% C.L. = 641, 1,354) for the microsatellite genotype data sets. The current estimate of 900 whales may represent less than 5% of the pre-whaling abundance in New Zealand waters.