Baleen Whale Population Genetics

Using genetic techniques, my research aims to better our understanding of the population structure (i.e. number, distribution, and connectivity of populations) of highly migratory baleen whales. My work to date has focused on Bryde’s whales in the northern Indian Ocean, and humpback whales of the southeast Atlantic, and western and northern Indian Ocean. 

Research, including my own, is increasingly showing that baleen whales exhibit complex genetic architectures. My work highlights how behavior may be influencing the genetic structure of these species and potentially their long-term evolutionary trajectory.

Baleen whales are still in recovery from heavy industrial and illegal whaling during the past century. Some species, including the Bryde’s whale, are still hunted today under scientific permit. My research also directly informs the management and protection of these species.


RELATED OUTPUTS

Scientific publications

Kershaw F., Rosenbaum HC. Humpback whales also vulnerable to the north-south divide. Marine Policy. In prep.

Kershaw F., Amaral AR., Best PB., Findlay KP., Collins T., Olavarría C., Engel MH., Barendse J., Meÿer M., Rosenbaum HC. Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) populations show extensive and complex mixing on feeding areas in the South Atlantic and Western Indian Oceans. Marine Biology. Submitted.   

Rosenbaum HC., Kershaw F., Mendez M., Pomilla C., Leslie MS., Findlay KP., Best PB., Collins T., Vely M., Engel MH., Baldwin R., Minton G., Meÿer M., Flórez-González L., Poole MM., Hauser N., Garrigue C., Brasseur M., Bannister J., Anderson M., Olavarría C., Baker CS. (2017). First circumglobal assessment of Southern Hemisphere humpback whale mitochondrial genetic variation at multiple scales and implications for management. Endangered Species Research, 32, 551-567. [.PDF][Supporting Information]

Kershaw F., Carvalho I., Loo J., Pomilla C., Best PB., Findlay KP., Cerchio S., Collins T., Engel MH., Minton G., Ersts P., Barendse J., Kotze PGH., Razafindrakoto Y., Ngouessono S., Meÿer M., Thornton M., Rosenbaum HC. (2017). Multiple processes drive genetic structure of humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) populations across spatial scales. Molecular Ecology, 26(4), 977-994. [.PDF] [Supporting Information]

Kershaw F. (2015). Understanding the evolution of two species of highly migratory cetacean at multiple scales and the potential value of a mechanistic approach. Ph.D. Thesis. Columbia University, New York.

Kershaw F., Leslie MS., Collins T., Mansur RM., Smith BD., Minton G., Baldwin R., LeDuc RG., Anderson RC., Brownell Jr. RL., Rosenbaum C. (2013). Population differentiation of 2 forms of Bryde’s whales in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Journal of Heredity, 104(6), 755-764. (Cover article) [.PDF]

Policy papers and technical reports

Kershaw, F., Leslie, M.S., Collins, T., Mansur, R.M., Smith, B.D., Minton, G., Baldwin, R., LeDuc, R.G., Anderson, C., Brownell, R.L. Jr. & Rosenbaum, H.C. (2012). Identifying species and populations of Bryde’s whale within and across ocean basins. Paper SC64/SD/WP presented to IWC Scientific Committee, June 2012, Panama, Rep. de Panama (unpublished).

Kershaw, F., Leslie, M.S., Collins, T., Mansur, R.M., Smith, B.D., Minton, G., Baldwin, R., LeDuc, R.G., Anderson, C., Brownell, R.L. Jr. & Rosenbaum, H.C. (2011). New insights on the taxonomy and population structure of Bryde’s whale species across the Indo-Western Pacific. Paper SC/63/O19 presented to IWC Scientific Committee, June 2011, Tromso, Norway (unpublished).

Presentations & other media

Rosenbaum HC., Kershaw F. (2016). Approaches and considerations for understanding connectivity for marine mammals using various techniques. Invited Presentation. Arctic Council/PAME workshop - Science and tools for developing Arctic MPA networks: Understanding connectivity and identifying management models. Washington D.C., 22nd September, 2016. 

Rosenbaum HC., Mendez M., Kershaw F., Pomilla C., Leslie MS., et al. (2015). Complex genetic structure informs management of Southern Hemisphere humpback whales at multiple scales. Oral Presentation. Society of Marine Mammalogy Biennial Conference, San Francisco, 17th December, 2015.

Kershaw, F. (2013). Resolving weak population structure using relatedness and social networks. Oral presentation, Student Conference on Conservation Science - New York, New York, USA, 9th October 2013.

Kershaw, F., Leslie, M.S., Collins, T., Mansur, R.M., Smith, B.D., Minton, G., Baldwin, R., LeDuc, R.G., Anderson, R.C., Brownell, R.L. Jr. & Rosenbaum, H.C. (2011). New insights on the taxonomy and population structure of “Bryde’s whale” species across the Indo-Western Pacific. Poster presentation, 19th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Tampa, FL., USA, 29th November & 1st December 2011.

Rosenbaum, H.C., Mendez, M. & Kershaw, F. (2011). New views on population structure among cetaceans in coastal and pelagic environments in light of current and emerging impacts. Oral presentation, 19th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Tampa, FL., USA, 29th November 2011.

Rosenbaum, H.C., Mendez, M. & Kershaw, F. (2011). New views on population structure among cetaceans in coastal and pelagic environments. Oral presentation, 2nd International Marine Conservation Congress, Victoria, Canada, 17th May 2011.

Kershaw, F., Leslie, M.S., Mansur, R.M., Ahmed, B., Smith, B.D., Minton, G., Collins, T., Baldwin, R., LeDuc, R.G., Anderson, R. C., Brownell, R.L. Jr. & Rosenbaum, H.C. (2011). Phylogenetic relationships among the Bryde’s whales (Balaenoptera): New data from the Northern Indian Ocean and a combined analysis with existing molecular data. Poster presentation, 2nd International Marine Conservation Congress, Victoria, Canada, 17th May 2011.