Examination of Beluga-habitat Relationships through the Use of Telemetry and a Geographic Information System

  • David G. Barber
  • Eric Saczuk
  • Pierre R. Richard
Keywords: bathymetry, beluga, climate change, Delphinapterus leucas, Geographic Information System, habitat, sea ice


The spatial and temporal relationships between belugas (Delphinapterus leucas) and two characteristics of their habitat - bathymetry and ice concentration - were examined. Observed location-habitat correspondence histograms were compared to random location-habitat histograms, using a Kolmogorov-Smirnoff (K-S) statistical test. Results show that beluga distribution is bimodal with respect to bathymetry, with a larger mode in shallow water and a smaller mode in water approximately 500 m deep. They occur more often than expected by chance in the 0/10 ice class and less often than expected in the 10/10 ice class. Males and females associate differently with both depth and ice concentration. Females associate with bathymetry very differently in the fall than in the summer. There is a general tendency for males in the eastern North American Arctic to be associated with shallow water during the summer and deeper water (modes at 100 and 500 m) in the fall. Female locations are associated more often with the 0/10 ice class and less often with the 10/10 class than expected by chance. These trends were stronger in the western than in the eastern portions of the Canadian Arctic.