The challenges of a small population exposed to multiple anthropogenic stressors and a changing climate: the St. Lawrence Estuary beluga

  • Véronique Lesage Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Maurice Lamontagne Institute, Mont-Joli, QC, Canada
Keywords: Delphinapterus leucas, climate change, population dynamics, noise, food availability, cumulative effects

Abstract

Until 2012, the St. Lawrence Estuary beluga population was considered stable with about 1100 individuals. An abnormally high number of calves reported dead that year triggered a population status reassessment. This review article summarizes the findings from this reassessment and various studies subsequent to it and provides an updated analysis of carcass recovery rates up to 2019. The 2013 review indicated a decreased incidence of cancer in adults, suggesting positive impacts from the regulation of toxic substances (e.g., PCBs and PAHs). However, the review also revealed that the population initiated a decline of ca. 1% per year in the early 2000s and had reached a size of ca. 900 individuals by 2012. This decline was accompanied by high inter-annual variability in calf survival and pregnancy rates and by more frequent peripartum complications among dead females. The change in population dynamics coincided with a shift in the St. Lawrence ecosystem structure and warmer environmental conditions, suggesting a link through effects on reproductive success and adult female body condition. This was supported by the continued high calf mortality after 2012 and a documented decline of fat reserves in beluga blubber from 1998 to 2016. Other factors, such as the exposure to chronic vessel noise, increasing whale-watching activities, high contaminant levels and episodic harmful algal blooms, may also be contributing to the long-term non-recovery and current decline of the population. The strong natal philopatry and complex social system of the beluga likely increase its vulnerability to extinction risk by limiting dispersal.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

References


Addison R.F. 1989. Organochlorines and marine mammal reproduction. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 46, 360–368, doi: 10.1139/f89-047.


Bailey R. & Zinger N. 1995. St. Lawrence beluga recovery plan. Toronto: World Wildlife Fund.


Baker C.S., Steel D., Calambokidis J., Falcone E., Gonćalez-Peral U., Barlow J., Burdin A.M, Clapham P.J., Ford J.K.B., Gabriele C.M., Mattila D., Rojas-Bracho L., Straley J.M., Taylor B.L., Urbàn J., Wade P.R., Weller D., Witteveen B.H. & Yamaguchi M. 2013. Strong maternal fidelity and natal philopatry shape genetic structure in North Pacific humpback whales. Marine Ecology Progress Series 494, 291–306, doi: 10.3354/meps10508.


Barber D.G., Saczuk E. & Richard P.R. 2001. Examination of beluga–habitat relationships through the use of telemetry and a Geographic Information System. Arctic 54, 305–316.


Beauchesne D., Daigle R.M., Vissault S., Gravel D., Bastien A., Bélanger S., Bernatchez P., Blais M., Bourdages H., Chion C., Galbraith P.S., Halpern B.S., Lavoie C., McKindsey C.W., Mucci A., Pineault S., Starr M., Ste-Marie A.-S. & Archambault P. 2020. Characterizing exposure to and sharing knowledge of drivers of environmental change in the St. Lawrence system in Canada. Frontiers in Marine Science 7, article no. 383, doi: 10.3389/fmars.2020.00383.


Béland P., De Guise S., Girard C., Lagacé A., Martineau D., Michaud R., Muir D.C.G., Norstrom R.J., Pelletier É., Ray S. & Shugart L.R. 1993. Toxic compounds and health and reproductive effects in St Lawrence beluga whale. Journal of Great Lakes Research 19, 766–775.


Bernier-Graveline A., Lesage V., Cabrol J., Lair S., Michaud R., Rosabal M. & Verreault J. 2021. Lipid metabolites as predictors of energy reserves in highly contaminant-exposed belugas from the endangered St. Lawrence Estuary population. Environmental Research 192, article no. 110272, doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2020.110272.


Boyd I.L., Frisk G., Urbàn E., Tyack P., Ausubel J., Seeyave S., Cato D., Southall B., Weise M., Andrew R., Akamatsu T., Dekeling R., Erbe C., Farmer D., Gentry R., Gross T., Hawkins A., Li F.H., Metcalf K., Miller J.H., Moretti D., Rodrigo C. & Shinke T. 2011. An international quiet ocean experiment. Oceanography 24, 174–181, doi: 10.5670/oceanog.2011.37.


Brousseau P., De Guise S., Voccia I., Ruby S. & Fournier M. 2003. Immune status of St. Lawrence Estuary beluga whales. In J.G. Vos et al. (eds.): Toxicology of marine mammals. Pp. 381–403. New York: Taylor and Francis.


Buren A.J., Murphy H.M., Adamack A.T., Davoren G.K., Koen-Alonso M., Montevecchi W.A., Mowbray F.K., Pepin P., Regular P.M., Robert D., Rose G.A., Stenson G.B. & Varkey D. 2019. The collapse and continued low productivity of a keystone forage fish species. Marine Ecology Progress Series 616, 155–170, doi: 10.3354/meps12924.


Cairns D.K., Chaput G., Poirier L.A., Avery T.S., Castonguay M., Mathers A., Casselman J.M., Bradford R.G., Pratt T., Verreault G., Clarke K., Veinott G. & Bernatchez L. 2014. Recovery potential assessment for the American eel (Anguilla rostrata) for eastern Canada: life history, distribution, reported landings, status indicators, and demographic parameters. DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Research Document 2013/134. Ottawa: Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Caron L.M.J. & Smith T.G. 1990. Philopatry and site tenacity of belugas, Delphinapterus leucas, hunted by the Inuit at the Nastapoka Estuary, eastern Hudson Bay. Canadian Bulletin of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 224, 69–79.


Casgrain H.R. 1873. La pêche aux marsouins dans le fleuve Saint-Laurent. (Porpoise fishing in the St. Lawrence River.) Montreal: Typographie de l’opinion publique. Accessed on the internet at https://ia802906.us.archive.org/12/items/cihm_00526/cihm_00526.pdf on 16 June 2021.


Chion C., Lagrois D., Dupras J., Turgeon S., McQuinn I.H., Michaud R., Ménard N. & Parrott L. 2017. Underwater acoustic impacts of shipping management measures: results from a social–ecological model of boat and whale movements in the St. Lawrence River Estuary (Canada). Ecological Modelling 354, 72–87, doi: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2017.03.014.


Chion C., Turgeon S., Michaud R., Landry J.-A. & Parrott L. 2009. Portrait de la navigation dans le parc marin du Saguenay–Saint-Laurent. Caractérisation des activités sans prélèvement de ressources entre le 1er mai et le 31 octobre 2007. (Overview of the navigation in the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park. Characterization of the activities without resource removals between 1 May and 31 October 2007.) Unpublished report for Parcs Canada. Accessed on the internet at https://www.pc.gc.ca/-/media/amnc-nmca/qc/saguenay/WET4/Publications-scientific/Chion-et-al2009_Portrait-de-la-navigation-dans-le-parc-marin-du-Saguenay-Saint-Laurent-2007.pdf on 6 July 2021.


Christiansen F., Bertulli C.G., Rasmussen M.H. & Lusseau D. 2015. Estimating cumulative exposure of wildlife to non-lethal disturbance using spatially explicit capture recapture models. Journal of Wildlife Management 79, 311–324, doi: 10.1111/conl.12166.


Clark C.W., Ellison W.T., Southall B.L., Hatch L., Van Parijs S.M., Frankel A. & Ponirakis D. 2009. Acoustic masking in marine ecosystem: intuitions, analysis, and implication. Marine Ecology Progress Series 395, 201–222, doi: 10.3354/meps08402.


Colbeck G.J., Duchesne P., Postma L.P., Lesage V., Hammill M.O. & Turgeon J. 2013. Groups of related belugas (Delphinapterus leucas) travel together during their seasonal migrations in and around Hudson Bay. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 280, article no. 20122552, doi: 10.1098/rspb.2012.2552.


COSEWIC 2014. COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Beluga Whale Delphinapterus leucas, St. Lawrence Estuary population, in Canada. Ottawa: Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.


COSEWIC 2016. Designatable units for beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) in Canada. Ottawa: Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.


Costa L.G., de Laat R., Tagliaferri S. & Pellacani C. 2014. A mechanistic view of polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) developmental neurotoxicity. Toxicology Letters 230, 282–294, doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2013.11.011.


Dawson T.P., Jackson S.T., House J.I., Prentice I.C. & Mace G.M. 2011. Beyond predictions: biodiversity conservation in a changing climate. Science 332, 53–58, doi: 10.1126/science.1200303.


De Guise S. 1998. Effects of in vitro exposure of beluga whale leukocytes to selected organochlorines. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health Part A 55, 479–493, doi: 10.1080/009841098158287.


De Guise S., Lagacé A. & Béland P. 1994. Tumors in St Lawrence beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas). Veterinary Pathology 31, 444–449, doi: 10.1177/030098589403100406.


De Guise S., Martineau D., Béland P. & Fournier M. 1995. Possible mechanisms of action of environmental contaminants on St. Lawrence beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas). Environmental Health Perspective 103, Suppl. 4, 73–77.


de March B.G.E. & Postma L.D. 2003. Molecular genetic stock discrimination of belugas (Delphinapterus leucas) hunted in Eastern Hudson Bay, Northern Québec, Hudson Strait, and Sanikiluaq (Belcher Islands), Canada, and comparisons to adjacent populations. Arctic 56, 111–124, doi: 10.14430/arctic607.


Dennis R.L.H., Dapporto L., Fattorini S. & Cook L.M. 2011. The generalism–specialism debate: the role of generalists in the life and death of species. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society London 104, 725–737, doi: 10.1111/j.1095-8312.2011.01789.x.


Desrosiers J. 1994. Analyse photogrammétrique de la structure et la dynamique de la population de bélugas du Saint-Laurent. (Photogrammetric analysis of the structure and dynamics of the St. Lawrence beluga population.) MSc thesis, Laval University.


De Wit C.A. 2002. An overview of brominated flame retardants in the environment. Chemosphere 46, 583–624, doi: 10.1016/s0045-6535(01)00225-9.


DFO 2014. Status of beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) in the St. Lawrence River Estuary. DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Science Advisory Report 2013/076. Ottawa: Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


DFO 2017. St. Lawrence Estuary beluga. A science-based review of recovery actions for three at-risk whale populations. Accessed on the internet at https://waves-vagues.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Library/40680253.pdf on 20 April 2021.


DFO 2020. Action plan to reduce the impact of noise on the beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas) and other marine mammals at risk in the St. Lawrence Estuary. Ottawa: Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Diaz R.J. & Rosenberg R. 2008. Spreading dead zones and consequences for marine ecosystems. Science 321, 926–929, doi: 10.1126/science.1156401.


Dionne S. 2001. Plan de conservation des écosystèmes du parc marin du Saguenay-Saint-Laurent. Parcs Canada, parc marin du Saguenay–Saint-Laurent. (Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park Ecosystem Conservation Plan. Parks Canada, Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park.) Quebec: Parcs Canada.


El-Sabh M.I. & Silverberg N. 1990. Oceanography of a large-scale estuarine system: the St. Lawrence. New York: Springer.


Erbe C., Dunlop R. & Dolman S. 2018. Effects of noise on marine mammals. In H. Slabbekoorn et al. (eds.): Effects of anthropogenic noise on animals. Pp. 277–309. New York: Springer, doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-8574-6_10.


Ferchoui B. 2019. Nouvelle approche chimique basée sur la bioaccumulation des retardateurs de flamme pour identifier et évaluer la diète du béluga du Saint-Laurent, Delphinapterus leucas. (New chemical approach based on the bioaccumulation of flame retardants to identify and evaluate the diet of the St. Lawrence beluga, Delphinapterus leucas.) MSc thesis, University du Quebec à Rimouski.


Finley K.J., Miller G.W., Davis R.A. & Greene C.R. 1990. Reactions of belugas, Delphinapterus leucas, and narwhals, Monodon monoceros, to ice-breaking ships in the Canadian high Arctic. Canadian Bulletin of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 224, 97–117.


Fréchet A. 1990. Catchability variations of cod in the marginal ice zone. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 47, 1678–1683.


Galbraith P.S., Chassé J., Caverhill C., Nicot P., Gilbert D., Lefaivre D. & Lafleur C. 2020. Physical oceanographic conditions in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 2018. DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Research Document 2020/030. Ottawa: Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Gearing J.N., Gearing P.J., Noël M. & Smith J.N. 1994. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in sediment of the St. Lawrence Estuary. In R. Coillie et al. (eds): Proceedings of the Twentieth Annual Aquatic Toxicity Workshop, October 17–21, 1993, Quebec City, Quebec. Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 1989. Pp. 58–64. Ottawa: Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Geraci J.R., Anderson, D.M., Timperi, R.J., St. Aubin, D.J., Early, G.A., Prescott, J.H. & Mayo C.A. 1989. Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) fatally poisoned by dinoflagellate toxin. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 46, 1895–1898, doi: 10.1139/f89-238.


Gervaise C., Aulanier F., Roy N. & Simard Y. 2015. Mapping probability of shipping sound exposure level. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 137, EL429–435, doi: 10.1121/1.4921673.


Gervaise C., Simard Y., Roy N., Kinda B. & Ménard N. 2012. Shipping noise in whale habitat: characteristics, sources, budget, and impact on belugas in Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park hub. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 132, 76–89, doi: 10.1121/1.4728190.


Gilbert D., Sundby B., Gobeil C., Mucci A. & Tremblay G.-H. 2005. A seventy-two-year record of diminishing deep-water oxygen in the St. Lawrence Estuary: the Northwest Atlantic connection. Limnology and Oceanography 50, 1654–1666, doi: 10.4319/lo.2005.50.5.1654.


Gobeil C., Johnson W.K., MacDonald R.W. & Wong C.S. 1995. Sources and burden of lead in St. Lawrence Estuary sediments: isotopic evidence. Environmental Science and Technology 29, 193–201.


Gosselin J.-F., Hammill M.O. & Mosnier A. 2014. Summer abundance indices of St. Lawrence Estuary beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) from a photographic survey in 2009 and 28 line transect surveys from 2001 and 2009. DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Research Document 2014/021. Ottawa: Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Gruner E. 1973. Clinical aspects of the nutritional status of the dam and parturition: calving problems and early viability of the calf. Current Topics in Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science 4, 468–477.


Gulland F.M.D. & Hall A.J. 2007. Is marine mammal health deteriorating? Trends in the global reporting of marine mammal disease. Ecohealth 4, 145–150.


Hammill M.O., den Heyer C.E., Bowen W.D. & Lang S.L.C. 2017. Grey seal population trends in Canadian waters, 1960–2016 and harvest advice. DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Research Document 2017/052. Ottawa: Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Hammill M.O., Lesage V. & Kingsley M.C.S. 2003. Cancers in beluga from the St Lawrence Estuary. Environmental Health Perspective 111, A77–A78.


Hammill M.O., Measures L.N., Gosselin J.-F. & Lesage V. 2007. Lack of recovery in St. Lawrence Estuary beluga. DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Research Document 2007/026. Ottawa: Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Hammill M.O., Stenson G.B., Doniol-Valcroze T. & Mosnier A. 2015. Conservation of Northwest Atlantic harp seals: past success, future uncertainty? Biological Conservation 192, 181–191, doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2015.09.016.


Harington C.R. 1977. Marine mammals in the Champlain Sea and the Great Lakes. Annals of the New York Academy of Science 288, 508–537, doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1977.tb33640.x.


Harington C.R. 2008. The evolution of Arctic marine mammals. Ecological Applications 18, S23–S40, doi: 10.1890/06-0624.1.


Harwood L.A., Kingsley M.C.S. & Smith T.G. 2014. An emerging pattern of declining growth rates in belugas of the Beaufort Sea: 1989-2008. Arctic 67, 483–492, doi: 10.14430/arctic4423.


Jönsson K.I. 1997. Capital and income breeding as alternative tactics of resource use in reproduction. Oikos 78, 57–66, doi: 10.2307/3545800.


Kassen R. 2002. The experimental evolution of specialists, generalists and the maintenance of diversity. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 15, 173–190, doi: 10.1046/j.1420-9101.2002.00377.x.


Kastelein R.A., Ford J., Berghout E., Wiepkema P.R. & van Boxsel M. 1994. Food consumption, growth and reproduction of belugas (Delphinapterus leucas) in human care. Aquatic Mammals 20, 81–97.


Kelley T.C., Loseto L.L., Stewart R.E.A., Yurkowski M. & Ferguson S.H. 2010. Importance of eating capelin: unique dietary habits of Hudson Bay beluga. In S.H. Ferguson et al. (eds.): A little less Arctic—top predators in the world’s largest northern inland sea, Hudson Bay. Pp. 53–69. Dordrecht: Springer.


Kingsley M.C.S. 2002. Status of the belugas of the St. Lawrence Estuary, Canada. NAMMCO Scientific Publications 4, 239–257.


Kingsley M.C.S & Hammill M.O. 1991. Photographic census surveys of the St. Lawrence beluga population, 1988 and 1990. Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 1776. Mont-Joli: Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Kovacs K.M., Lydersen C., Overland J.E. & Moore S.E. 2011. Impacts of a changing sea-ice conditions on Arctic marine mammals. Marine Biodiversity 41, 181–194, doi: 10.1007/s12526-010-0061-0.


Laidre K.L., Stirling I., Lowry L.F., Wiig O., Heide-Jørgensen M.-P. & Ferguson S.H. 2008. Quantifying the sensitivity of Arctic marine mammals to climate-induced habitat change. Ecological Applications 18, Suppl., S97–S125.


Lair S., Gentes M.-L. & Measures L.N. 2015. Documentation de l’évolution du protocole d’examen des carcasses de béluga de l’estuaire du Saint-Laurent de 1983 à 2012. (Documentation of the evolution of the protocol for the examination of beluga carcasses in the St. Lawrence Estuary from 1983 to 2012.) Rapport Technique Canadien des Sciences Halieutiques et Aquatiques 3143. Mont-Joli: Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Lair S., Measures L.N. & Martineau D. 2016. Pathological findings and trends in mortality in the beluga (Dephinapterus leucas) population of the St. Lawrence Estuary, Québec, Canada, from 1983 to 2012. Veterinary Pathology 53, 22–36, doi: 10.1177/0300985815604726.


Landsberg J.H. 2002. The effects of harmful algal blooms on aquatic organisms. Reviews in Fisheries Science 10, 113–390, doi: 10.1080/20026491051695.


Lavaud R., Thomas Y., Pecquerie L., Benoît H.P., Guyondet T., Flye-Sainte-Marie J. & Chabot D. 2019. Modeling the impact of hypoxia on the energy budget of Atlantic cod in two populations of the Gulf of Saint-Lawrence, Canada. Journal of Sea Research 143, 243–253, doi: 10.1016/j.seares.2018.07.001.


Lebeuf M. 2009. La contamination du béluga de l’estuaire du Saint-Laurent par les polluants organiques persistants en revue. (A review of the contamination of the St. Lawrence Estuary beluga by persistent organic pollutants.) Journal of Water Science 22, 199–233, doi: 10.7202/037482ar.


Lebeuf M., Measures L., Noël M., Raach M. & Trottier S. 2014. A twenty-one year temporal trend of persistent organic pollutants in St. Lawrence Estuary beluga, Canada. Science of the Total Environment 485, 377–386, doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.03.097.


Lebeuf M. & Nunes T. 2005. PCBs and OCPs in sediment cores from the lower St. Lawrence Estuary, Canada: evidence of fluvial inputs and time lag in delivery to coring sites. Environmental Science and Technology 39, 1470–1478, doi: 10.1021/es049051c.


Lebeuf M., Raach M., Measures L., Ménard N. & Hammill M. 2014. Temporal trends of PBDEs in adult and newborn beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) from the St. Lawrence Estuary. DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Research Document 2013/120. Ottawa: Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Lesage V. 2014. Trends in the trophic ecology of St. Lawrence beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) over the period 1988–2012, based on stable isotope analysis. DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Research Document 2013/126. Ottawa: Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Lesage V., Barrette C., Kingsley M.C.S. & Sjare B. 1999. The effect of vessel noise on the vocal behavior of belugas in the St. Lawrence River Estuary, Canada. Marine Mammal Science 15, 65–84, doi: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.1999.tb00782.x.


Lesage V., Lair S., Turgeon S. & Béland P. 2020. Diet of St. Lawrence Estuary beluga, Delphinapterus leucas, in a changing ecosystem. Canadian Field-Naturalist 134, 21–35, doi: 10.22621/cfn.v134i1.2421.


Lesage V., McQuinn I.H., Carrier D., Gosselin J.-F. & Mosnier A. 2014. Exposure of the beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) to marine traffic under various scenarios of transit route diversion in the St. Lawrence Estuary. DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Research Document 2013/125. Ottawa: Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Lesage V., Measures L., Mosnier A., Lair S. & Béland P. 2014. Mortality patterns in St. Lawrence Estuary beluga (Delphinapterus leucas), inferred from the carcass recovery data, 1983–2012. DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Research Document 2013/118. Ottawa: Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Lockyer C. 1986. Body fat condition in Northeast Atlantic fin whales and its relationship with reproduction and food resources. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 43, 142–147.


Lusseau D. & Bejder L. 2007. The long-term consequences of short-term responses of disturbance experiences from whale watching impact assessment. International Journal of Comparative Psychology 20, 228–236, doi: 10.5070/P4202009991.


Marcoux M., McMeans B.C., Fisk A.T. & Ferguson S.H. 2012. Composition and temporal variation in the diet of beluga whales, derived from stable isotopes. Marine Ecology Progress Series 471, 283–291, doi: 10.3354/meps10029.


Martel L.M., Gagnon J., Massé R., Leclerc A. & Tremblay L. 1986. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in sediments from the Saguenay Fjord, Canada. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 37, 133–140.


Martineau D., Béland P., Desjardins C. & Lagacé A. 1987. Levels of organochlorine chemicals in tissues of beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) from the St. Lawrence Estuary, Québec, Canada. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 16, 137–147.


Martineau D., De Guise S., Fournier M., Shugart L.R., Girard C., Lagacé A. & Béland P. 1994. Pathology and toxicology of beluga whales from the St Lawrence Estuary, Quebec, Canada: past, present and future. Science of the Total Environment 154, 201–215, doi: 10.1016/0048-9697(94)90088-4.


Martineau D., Lemberger K., Dallaire A., Labelle P., Lipscomb T.P., Michel P. & Michaelian I. 2002. Cancer in wildlife, a case study: beluga from the St Lawrence Estuary, Quebec, Canada. Environmental Health Perspective 110, 285–292, doi: 10.1289/ehp.02110285.


McQuinn I.H., Lesage V., Carrier D., Larrivée G., Samson Y., Chartrand S., Michaud R. & Theriault J. 2011. A threatened beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) population in the traffic lane: vessel-generated noise characteristics of the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park, Canada. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 130, 3661–3673, doi: 10.1121/1.3658449.


Mee J.F. 2008. Prevalence and risk factors for dystocia in dairy cattle: a review. Veterinary Journal 176, 93–101, doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2007.12.032.


Ménard N.R., Michaud R., Chion C. & Turgeon S. 2014. Documentation of maritime traffic and navigational interactions with St. Lawrence Estuary beluga (Delphinaterus leucas) in calving areas between 2003 and 2012. DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Research Document 2014/003. Ottawa: Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Michaud R. 1993. Distribution estivale du béluga du St-Laurent; synthèse 1986-1992. (Summer distribution of the St. Lawrence beluga; synthesis 1986-1992.) Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 1906. Quebec: Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Michaud R. 2014. St. Lawrence Estuary beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) population parameters based photo-identification surveys, 1989-2012. DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Research Document 2013/130. Ottawa: Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Miller C.A., Reeb D., Best P.B., Knowlton A., Brown M.W. & Moore M.J. 2011. Blubber thickness in right whales Eubalaena glacialis and Eubalaena australis related to reproduction, life history status and prey abundance. Marine Ecology Progress Series 438, 267–283, doi: 10.3354/meps09174.


Mosnier A., Doniol-Valcroze T., Gosselin J.-F., Lesage V., Measures L.N. & Hammill M.O. 2015. Insights into processes of population decline using an integrated population model: the case of the St. Lawrence beluga (Delphinapterus leucas). Ecological Modelling 314, 15–31, doi: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2015.07.006.


Mosnier A., Larocque R., Lebeuf M., Gosselin J.-F., Dubé S., Lapointe V., Lesage V., Lefaivre D., Senneville S. & Chion C. 2016. Définition et caractérisation de l’habitat du béluga (Delphinapterus leucas) de l’estuaire du Saint-Laurent selon une approche écosystémique. (Definition and characterization of the habitat of the beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) of the St. Lawrence Estuary using an ecosystem approach.) Secrétariat canadien de consultation scientifique du MPO, Document de Recherche 2016/052. Ottawa: Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Mosnier A., Lesage V., Gosselin J.-F., Lemieux Lefebvre S., Hammill M.O. & Doniol-Valcroze T. 2010. Information relevant to the documentation of habitat use by St. Lawrence beluga (Delphinapterus leucas), and quantification of habitat quality. DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Research Document 2009/098. Mont-Joli: Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Muir D.C.G., Ford C.A., Stewart R.E.A., Smith T.G., Addison R.F., Zinck M.T. & Béland P. 1990. Organochlorine contaminants in beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) from Canadian waters. Canadian Bulletin of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 224, 165–190.


Muir D.C.G., Koczanski K., Rosenberg B. & Béland P. 1996. Persistent organochlorines in beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) from the St Lawrence River Estuary. II. Temporal trends 1982–1994. Environmental Pollution 93, 235–245.


O’Corry-Crowe G. 2008. Climate change and the molecular ecology of Arctic marine mammals. Ecological Applications 18, Suppl., S56–S76.


O’Corry-Crowe G., Mahoney A.R., Suydam R., Quakenbush L., Whiting A., Lowry L. & Harwood L. 2016. Genetic profiling links changing sea-ice to shifting beluga whale migration patterns. Biology Letters 12, 20160404, doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2016.0404.


O’Corry-Crowe G., Suydam R., Quakenbush L., Potgieter B., Harwood L., Litovka D., Ferrer T., Citta J., Burkanov V., Frost K. & Mahoney B. 2018. Migratory culture, population structure and stock identity in North Pacific beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas). PLoS One 13, e0194201, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0194201.


O’Corry-Crowe G., Suydam R., Quakenbush L., Smith T.G., Lydersen C., Kovacs K.M., Orr J., Harwood L., Litovka D. & Ferrer T. 2020. Group structure and kinship in beluga whale societies. Scientific Reports 10, article no. 11462, doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-67314-w.


Ofori B.Y., Stow A.J., Baumgartner J.B. & Beaumont L.J. 2017. Influence of adaptive capacity on the outcome of climate change vulnerability assessment. Scientific Reports 7, article no. 12979, doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-13245-y.


Patenaude N.J., Quinn J.S., Béland P., Kingsley M. & White B.N. 1994. Genetic variation of the St. Lawrence beluga whale population assessed by DNA fingerprinting. Molecular Ecology 3, 375–381, 10.1111/j.1365-294x.1994.tb00077.x.


Pippard L. 1985. Status of the St. Lawrence River population of beluga, Delphinapterus leucas. Canadian Field-Naturalist 99, 438–450.


Pirotta E., Merchant N.D., Thompson P.M., Barton T.R. & Lusseau D. 2015. Quantifying the effect of boat disturbance on bottlenose dolphin foraging activity. Biological Conservation 181, 82–89, doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2014.11.003.


Plourde S., Galbraith P., Lesage V., Grégoire F., Bourdgages H., Gosselin J.-F., McQuinn I. & Scarratt M. 2014. Ecosystem perspective on changes and anomalies in the Gulf of St. Lawrence: a context in support of the management of the St. Lawrence beluga whale population. DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Research Document 2013/129. Ottawa: Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Plourde S., Grégoire F., Lehoux C., Galbraith P.S., Castonguay M. & Ringuette M. 2014. Effect of environmental variability on body condition and recruitment success of Atlantic Mackerel (Scomber scombrus L.) in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Fisheries Oceanography 24, 347–363, doi: 10.1111/fog.12113.


Poirier M.C., Lair S., Michaud R., Hernandez-Ramon E.E., Divi K.V., Dwyer J.E., Ester C.D., Si N.N., Ali M., Loseto L.L., Raverty S.A., St. Leger J.A., Van Bonn W.G., Colegrove K., Burek-Huntington K.A., Suydam R., Stimmelmayr R., Pierce Wise J. Sr., Wise S.S., Beauchamp G. & Martineau D. 2019. Intestinal polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon-DNA adducts in a population of beluga whales with high levels of gastrointestinal cancers. Environmental Molecular Mutagenesis 60, 29–41, doi: 10.1002/em.22251.


Postma L.D. 2017. Genetic diversity, population structure and phylogeography among belugas (Delphinapterus leucas) in Canadian waters: broad to fine-scale approaches to inform conservation and management strategies. PhD thesis, University of Manitoba.


Reeves R.R. & Mitchell E. 1984. Catch history and initial population of white whales (Delphinapterus leucas) in the river and Gulf of St. Lawrence, eastern Canada. Canadian Field-Naturalist 111, 63–121.


Roy N. & Simard Y. 2015. Bruit ambiant et fréquentation de la région de Cacouna par le béluga du Saint-Laurent à l’été 2014 par monitorage acoustique continu. (Ambient noise and use of the Cacouna region by St. Lawrence beluga in summer 2014 by continuous acoustic monitoring.) Rapport Technique Canadien des Sciences Halieutiques et Aquatiques 3141. Mont-Joli: Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Ruest B., Neumeier U., Dumont D., Bismuth E., Senneville S. & Caveen J. 2016. Recent wave climate and expected future changes in the seasonally ice-infested waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada. Climate Dynamics 46, 449–466, doi: 10.1007/s00382-015-2592-3.


Rugh D.J., Shelden K.E.W. & Hobbs R.C. 2010. Range contraction in a beluga population. Endangered Species Research 12, 69–75, doi: 10.3354/esr00293.


Savenkoff, C., Castonguay, M., Chabot, D., Hammill, M.O., Bourdages, H. & Morissette, L. 2007. Changes in the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence ecosystem estimated by inverse modelling: evidence of a fishery-induced regime shift? Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 73, 711–724, doi: 10.1016/j.ecss.2007.03.011.


Scarratt M., Michaud S., Measures L. & Starr M. 2014. Phytotoxin analyses in St. Lawrence Estuary beluga. DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Research Document 2013/124. Ottawa: Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Scheifele P.M., Andrew S., Cooper R.A., Darre M., Musiek F.E. & Max L. 2005. Indication of a Lombard vocal response in the St. Lawrence River beluga. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 117, 1486–1492, doi: 10.1121/1.1835508.


Senigaglia V., Christiensen F., Bejder L., Gendron D., Lundquist D., Noren D.P., Schaffar A., Smith J.C., Williams R., Martinez E., Stockin K. & Lusseau D. 2016. Meta-analyses of whale-watching impact studies: comparisons of cetacean responses to disturbance. Marine Ecology Progress Series 542, 251–263, doi: 10.3354/meps11497.


Sergeant D.E. 1986. Present status of white whales Delphinapterus leucas in the St. Lawrence Estuary. Naturaliste Canadien 113, 61–81.


Simard Y., Lepage R. & Gervaise C. 2010. Anthropogenic sound exposure of marine mammals from seaways: estimates for lower St. Lawrence Seaway, eastern Canada. Applied Acoustics 71, 1093–1098, doi: 10.1016/j.apacoust.2010.05.012.


Simard Y., Roy N., Giard S. & Yayla M. 2014. Canadian year-round shipping traffic atlas for 2013: volume 1, East Coast marine waters. Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 3091 (Vol. 1) E. Mont-Joli: Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Simond A.E., Houde M., Lesage V., Michaud R., Zbinden D. & Verreault J. 2019. Associations between organohalogen contaminant and thyroid- and steroid-related gene responses in St. Lawrence Estuary beluga and minke whales. Marine Pollution Bulletin 145, 174–184, doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2019.05.029.


Simond A.E., Houde M., Lesage V. & Verreault J. 2017. Temporal trends of PBDEs and emerging flame retardants in belugas from the St. Lawrence Estuary (Canada) and comparisons with minke whales and belugas from the Canadian Arctic. Environmental Research 156, 494–504, doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2017.03.058.


Skovring I., Castruita J.A.S., Madsen T.M., Postma L. & Lorenzen E.D. 2019. Patterns of mtDNA variation in relation to currently recognized stocks of beluga whales, Delphinapterus leucas. Marine Fisheries Review 81, 87–97, doi: 10.7755/MFR.81.3–4.4.


Smetacek V. & Nicol S. 2005. Polar ocean ecosystems in a changing world. Nature 437, 362–368, doi: 10.1038/nature04161.


Starr M., Lair S., Michaud S., Scarratt M., Quilliam M., Lefaivre D., Robert M., Wotherspoon A., Michaud R., Ménard N., Sauvé G., Lessard S. & Measures L. 2017. Multispecies mass mortality of marine fauna linked to a toxic dinoflagellate bloom. PLoS One 12, e0176299, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0176299.


Stewart B.E. & Stewart R.E.A. 1989. Delphinapterus leucas. Mammal Species 336, 1–8, doi: 10.2307/3504210.


Theriault G., Gibbs G. & Tremblay C. 2002. Cancer in belugas of the St. Lawrence Estuary. Environmental Health Perspectives 110, A562.


Truchon M.-H., Measures L., L’Hérault V., Brethes J.-C., Galbraith P.S., Harvey M., Lessard S., Starr M. & Lecomte N. 2013. Marine mammal strandings and environmental changes: a 15-year study in the St. Lawrence ecosystem. PLoS One 8, e59311, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059311.


Turgeon J., Duchesne P., Colbeck G.J., Postma L.D. & Hammill M.O. 2012. Spatiotemporal segregation among summer stocks of beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) despite nuclear gene flow: implication for the endangered belugas in eastern Hudson Bay (Canada). Conservation Genetics 13, 419–433, doi: 10.1007/s10592-011-0294-x.


Tyack P.L. & Clark C.W. 2000. Communication and acoustic behavior of dolphins and whales. In W.W.W. Au & R.R. Fay (eds.): Hearing by whales and dolphins. Pp. 156–224. New York, NY: Springer.


Valenzuela L., Sironi M., Rowntree V. & Seger J. 2009. Isotopic and genetic evidence for culturally inherited site fidelity to feeding grounds in southern right whales (Eubalaena australis). Molecular Ecology 18, 782–791, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2008.04069.x.


Vergara V., Wood J., Lesage V., Ames A., Mikus M.-A. & Michaud R. 2021. Can you hear me? Impacts of underwater noise on communication space of adult, sub-adult and calf contact calls of endangered St. Lawrence belugas (Delphinapterus leucas). Polar Research 40, article no. 5521, doi: 10.33265/polar.v40.5521.


Viglino L., Pelletier É. & St-Louis R. 2004. Highly persistent butyltins in northern marine sediments: a long-term threat for the Saguenay Fjord (Canada). Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 23, 2673–2681, doi: 10.1897/03-674.


Villanger G.D., Lydersen C., Kovacs K.M., Lie E., Skaare J.U. & Jenssen B.M. 2011. Disruptive effects of persistent organohalogen contaminants on thyroid function in white whales (Delphinapterus leucas) from Svalbard. Science of the Total Environment 409, 2511–2524, doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2011.03.014.


Vladykov V.D. 1944. Études sur les mammifères aquatiques. III. Chasse, biologie et valeur économique du marsouin blanc ou béluga (Delphinapterus leucas) du fleuve et du golfe du Saint-Laurent. (Studies of aquatic mammals. III. Hunting, biology and economic value of the white whale or beluga [Delphinapterus leucas] of the St. Lawrence River and Gulf.) Quebec: Département des Pêcheries.


Vladykov V.D. 1946. Études sur les mammifères aquatiques. IV. Nourriture du marsouin blanc (Delphinapterus leucas) du fleuve Saint-Laurent. (Studies of aquatic mammals. IV. Food of the white whale [Delphinapterus leucas] of the St. Lawrence River.) Quebec: Département des Pêcheries.


Wade P.R., Reeves R.R. & Mesnick S.L. 2012. Social and behavioural factors in cetacean responses to overexploitation: are odontocetes less “resilient” than mysticetes? Journal of Marine Biology 2012(2), article no. 567276, doi: 10.1155/2012/567276.


Wagemann R., Stewart R.E.A., Béland P. & Desjardins C. 1990. Heavy metals and selenium in tissues of beluga whales, Delphinapterus leucas, from the Canadian Arctic and the St. Lawrence Estuary. Canadian Bulletin of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 224, 191–206.


Wassmann P., Duarte C.M., Agustı S. & Sejr M.K. 2011. Footprints of climate change in the Arctic marine ecosystem. Global Change in Biology 17, 1235–1249, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2010.02311.x.


Williams R., Lacy R.C., Ashe E., Hall A., Lehoux C., Lesage V., McQuinn I. & Plourde S. 2017. Predicting responses of St. Lawrence beluga to environmental changes and anthropogenic threats to orient effective management actions. DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Research Document 2017/027. Ottawa: Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Williams R. & Noren D.P. 2009. Swimming speed, respiration rate, and estimated cost of transport in adult killer whales. Marine Mammal Science 25, 327–335, doi: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.2008.00255.x.


Williams R., Wright A.J., Ashe E., Blight L.K., Bruintjes R., Canessa R., Clark C.W., Cullis-Suzuki S., Dakin D.T., Erbe C., Hammond P.S., Merchant N.D., O’Hara P.D., Purser J., Radford A.N., Simpson S.D., Thomas L. & Wale M.A. 2015. Impacts of anthropogenic noise on marine life: publication patterns, new discoveries, and future directions in research and management. Ocean & Coastal Management 115, 17–24, doi: 10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2015.05.021.


Worm B. & Myers R.A. 2003. Meta-analysis of cod–shrimp interactions reveals top-down control in oceanic food webs. Ecology 84, 162–173, doi: 10.1890/0012-9658(2003)084[0162:maocsi]2.0.co;2.


Yu L., Han Z. & Liu C. 2015. A review on the effects of PBDEs on thyroid and reproduction systems in fish. General and Comparative Endocrinology 219, 64–73, doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2014.12.010.
Published
2021-09-03
How to Cite
Lesage, V. (2021). The challenges of a small population exposed to multiple anthropogenic stressors and a changing climate: the St. Lawrence Estuary beluga. Polar Research, 40(S1). https://doi.org/10.33265/polar.v40.5523