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Recovery Strategy for the North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis) in Atlantic Canadian Waters [Proposed]

APPENDIX B – GLOSSARY OF TERMS

 

 

Action Plan: Document required by SARA that outline the measures needed to meet the objectives set out in a recovery strategy, and indicates when they are to take place, and who should be involved.

Allele: One of several possible mutational states of a particular gene or locus (gene location).

Anthropogenic: Caused by humans.

Baleen: Series of overlapping plates, made of fingernail-like material called keratin, which hang down from the whales’ upper jaw and filter zooplankton.

Basal metabolism: The minimum amount of energy required to maintain vital functions in an organism at complete rest.

 

Bathymetry: The representation of depth of bodies of water.

 

Biotoxins: Any toxin (i.e., poison) that is produced by a living organism (plant, animal, fungi, bacteria, etc.).

 

Callosities: Gray or black thickened patches of skin found on the rostrum, behind the blowholes, over the eyes, on the corners of the chin, and variably along the lower lips and jaws in patterns unique to each right whale and used by researchers to identify individuals; usually white or cream-coloured due to infections of whale lice.

Caloric buffer: Related to the thick protective layer of blubber that helps maintain the whale’s body heat.

Calving: To give birth to a calf, a newborn whale.

Chromosome: Microscopic, threadlike part of a cell that carries the genetic information (DNA) of an organism.

COSEWIC: Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, a committee of experts that assesses and designates species at risk of being lost from the wild in Canada.

Critical Habitat: The habitat necessary for the survival or recovery of a listed wildlife species and that is identified as the species’ critical habitat in the recovery strategy or in an action plan for the species.

Endangered (E): As defined by COSEWIC, a wildlife species facing imminent extirpation or extinction.

Endocrine disrupting chemicals: Any chemical that interferes with the body’s system of glands (i.e., endocrine system) and disrupts the function of the body’s chemical messengers called hormones.

Entanglement: One of the major threats to North Atlantic right whales; the ensnarement of an individual in fishing gear.

Epidemiological: Relating to the study of the distribution of diseases in populations and of factors that influence the occurrence of disease.

Feasibility: In the context of recovery, the concept of feasibility involves both the biological (intrinsic capabilities of a listed species or population to achieve a viable population status – e.g., availability of sufficient individuals capable of reproduction, availability of suitable habitat) and technical (ability of organizations and jurisdictions that are responsible for recovery to respond to the needs of a species – e.g., threat mitigation, effective recovery techniques) potential for recovery of a listed species at risk.

Fluke: Either of the two horizontally flattened lobes of a whale’s tail.

Gene: A hereditary unit consisting of a sequence of DNA that occupies a specific location on a chromosome and determines a particular characteristic in an organism.

Gene Complex: Cluster of functionally related genes; agroup of genes occurring close together on the same chromosome that perform similar roles in a biological function.

Genetic bottleneck:An evolutionary event in which a population’s size is greatly reduced and genetic drift is increased, reducing the population’s genetic variation and thus it’s ability to adapt to new selection pressures, such as climatic change or a shift in available resources. They may also increase inbreeding due to the reduced pool of possible mates.

Genetic diversity: The genetic variation that provides a mechanism for population to adapt to their ever-changing environment.

Genetic Drift: Random change of allele frequencies, within and among populations of a species, due to chance. Drift occurs more rapidly in smaller populations, and may result in loss or fixation of alternative alleles in different populations of a species.

 

Genotype: The genetic makeup, as distinguished from the physical appearance, of an organism or a group of organisms.

 

Growth rate: Change in the number of individuals in a population over time.

 

Habitat degradation: Reduction in habitat quality due to factors such as contaminants, exposure to excessive noise, and changes in food supply as a result of human activities.

Haplotype: One of the alternative forms of the genotype of a gene complex.

Homogeneously: from the adverb homogeneous, meaning of the same, uniform.

Interbreeding: Breeding (i.e., production of young) between different, albeit closely-related species. The term is related to hybrid.

Intrinsic factors: Inherent factor, belonging to the essential nature of an individual.

K-selected: A life history strategy that includes long generation times and low annual reproductive rates.

Loci: Plural of locus; A fixed position on a chromosome occupied by a gene, one of the alleles of the gene, or by any defined DNA segment.

Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC): A large DNA sequence region or group of genes found in most vertebrate species.

Matriline: Line of descent as traced through females on the mother’s side of a family.

Minisatellite and Microsatellite markers: Repetitive stretches of short sequences of DNA used as genetic markers to track inheritance in families.

Migratory corridor: Area that facilitates the migration (i.e., movements) of individuals or groups between two habitats (e.g., feeding and nursery grounds).

Mitigation: Measurestaken to reduce adverse impacts of an activity on a species or its habitat.

Mitochondrial DNA: Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is the genetic material found in mitochondria, the organelles that generate energy for the cell.

Mortality: Death of individuals in a population.

Necropsy: An examination and dissection of a dead organism to determine cause of death or the changes produced by disease; synonymous to autopsy.

Nomenclature: The procedure of assigning names to the organisms of a particular group or category (i.e., taxonomic classification).

 

Odontocete: Taxonomic category of whales that have teeth.  Members of this group include all dolphins, all porpoises, the beaked whales, killer whales, sperm whales, and a few others.

Outreach: Efforts by an organization or group to connect its ideas or practices to the efforts of other organizations, groups, specific audiences or the general public. Outreach often takes on an educational component.

 

Parturition: The action or process of giving birth to offspring.

Photo-identification: Identification of a particular individual through use of a photograph.

Recovery: The restoration of a species to a viable, self-sustaining population level, able to withstand random events and other environmental variables.

Recovery Potential Assessment: A science evaluation framework used as a basis for decisions relating to the recovery planning of a species at risk.

Reproductive isolation:Mechanisms that prevent two or more populations from interbreeding with each other and forming viable, fertile offspring.

Reproductive rate: Number of young per animal per unit of time.

 

Rostrum: Upper jaw of a whale; can refer to the beak composed of the upper and lower jaws.

Seismic: In this document, it refers to a method of probing the seafloor with sound energy produced from the propagation of elastic waves beneath the surface of the earth, usually as an aid in searching for economic deposits of oil, gas or minerals, but also for engineering, archaeological and scientific studies. Scientists use a device called an air gun to initiate a burst of compressed air at the ocean's surface which creates intense sound pressure pulses that travel through the water. The intensity and timing of the echoes from the ocean bottom provide information about buried geological structures.

Stewardship: Management of the heritage of our natural spaces and species in such a way that it can be passed on to future Canadians intact.

 

Stratification: Formation of separate layers in a water body.

Survival: The condition in which a species continues to exist into the future while retaining the potential for recovery.

 

Synergistic: The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.

Thermocline: A distinct layer in a large body of water, such as an ocean or lake, in which temperature changes more rapidly with depth than it does in the layers above or below.

Thermal front: Region or boundary separating two masses of different temperatures.

Threat: Any activity or process (both natural and human-induced) that has caused, is causing, or may cause harm, death, or behavioural changes to a species at risk or the destruction, degradation, and/or impairment of its habitat to the extent that population-level effects occur.

Topography: The surface features or configuration of an area.

Upwelling: A process in which relatively cold, usually nutrient-rich waters from the ocean depths rise to the surface.

Whaling: To engage in the hunting of whales.

Zooplankton: Broad categorisation spanning a range of sizes of small floating or weakly swimming organisms that drift with water currents and comprise the food supply of many marine species, including the North Atlantic right whale.