Ms Adelaide Dedden
Casual Academic

Ms Adelaide Dedden

School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences

Baleen whales from the Southern Hemisphere undertake extensive annual migrations away from reliable Southern Ocean feeding grounds towards tropical regions where they breed. They require enormous amounts of prey during the summer feeding period prior to their winter migration to ensure they have enough body reserves to support the physiological costs associated with this journey. Resource availability within the Southern Ocean is driven by climate conditions, which unfortunately into the future are becoming more variable and harder to predict. Understanding the historical patterns in feeding and spatial movements of baleen whales and how they relate to climate conditions will assist in predicting what may occur into the future.

My research involves unlocking feeding and spatial patterns through the keratin plates in their mouth, known as baleen. These plates grow continuously throughout the life of the whale and assimilate biochemical signals that allow me to analyse historical feeding patters. These keratin plates act as an ideal biorepository, containing isotopic data over long temporal scales (4-16 years depending on the species!). This allows me to compare feeding and spatial patterns alongside environmental changes to understand how they may respond into the future.