Workshop: LaWE 2008 meeting

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LaWE 2008 meeting

A Large-Scale Whalewatching Research Initiative
Sunday 30 March to Thursday 3 April 2008
Sanctuary Golf Resort, Bunbury, Western Australia

Studies on the impact of whalewatching have provided us with information on the way cetaceans respond to disturbances over the past 20 years. The International Whaling Commission Scientific Committee agreed in 2006 that there was compelling evidence that the fitness of individual odontocetes repeatedly exposed to whalewatching vessel traffic can be compromised and that this can lead to population level effects.

The Committee recommended that studies looking at individual fitness of cetaceans be carried out where ever possible. For this purpose, the Whalewatching Sub-Committee agreed that it was now necessary to concentrate research effort on understanding the interactions between whalewatching impacts on cetaceans and both other anthropogenic disturbances and ecological factors in order to gain a general understanding on the way disturbance can effect the population dynamics of cetaceans. It was also agreed that the PCAD model was a useful framework with which to proceed to answer these questions.

To do so, we are now holding a dedicated workshop to develop large-scale research design following the PCAD framework that considers multiple study areas and species in a comparable fashion (the LaWE Research Initiative). This will allow us to understand how life history strategies and ecological conditions interact with disturbances to lead to population-level consequences.


The goal of the workshop will give strong consideration to:

    a) Inclusions in research designs of various species with differing life history strategies and exposed to different environmental factors (e.g. including considering both feeding and breeding grounds)

    b) Experimental studies with appropriate controls and use of innovative technology and analytical techniques, including modelling

    c) Determining the availability of specific pre-existing data (e.g. local history of whalewatching activities, baseline data, longitudinal data on species in question, ecological data, human impacts including exploitation history)

Steering Committee

  • Dr David Lusseau (Convenor) (University of Aberdeen, Scotland)
  • Dr Lars Bejder (Murdoch University, Australia)
  • Dr Carole Carlson (Dolphin Fleet of Provincetown, USA)
  • Dr Caterina Fortuna (Central Institute of Marine Research, Italy)
  • Dr Chris Parsons (George Mason University, USA)
  • Dr Jooke Robbins (Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies, USA)
  • Dr Mark Simmonds (WDCS, UK)
  • Dr Mason Weinrich (Whale Center of New England, USA)
  • Dr Rob Williams (University of British Columbia, Canada)
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