Hal Whitehead

Dr. Hal Whitehead

BA (Cambridge) , MA (Cambridge)
PhD (Cambridge )
Diploma in Mathematical Statistics (Cambridge)
  • Teaching & Research
  • Students' Research Topics
  • Graduates' occupations
  • Publications
  • Links
  • Teaching & Research
    Behaviour, ecology and conservation of whales

    e mainly work on the behaviour, ecology, population biology and conservation of two species of deep-diving whale: the sperm and northern bottlenose. We have ongoing research projects on sperm whales in the eastern Pacific (since 1985) and Atlantic (since 2004) on northern bottlenose whales off Nova Scotia (since 1998), and on pilot whales off Nova Scotia Isince 1998). We spend periods of weeks at sea on board ocean-going sailing boats collecting acoustic, visual, photographic, genetic and oceanographic data.

    Classes in which Hal currently teaches:
    Undergraduate and graduate students mostly work with these species but sometimes carry out projects on other species such as narwhals and dolphins. Particular interests are exploring the movements, social systems (who goes around with whom, and for how long) and cultures (who learns what from whom, and how they pass it on) of whales, and conserving these animals and their habitat in the face of mounting human threats.
    Examples of Students' Research Topics
    Honors BSc Students
    • Jessica Mitchell (2008) Prevalence and characteristics of melon markings on northern bottlenose whales (Hyperoodon ampullatus) in the Gully and the effects of the Marine Protected Area on marks of anthropogenic origin
    • Vicky Yaroshewski (2007) The diet of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) in the Sargasso Sea and the Caribbean
    • Lucie Wade (2007) Conflict of interest in research concerning the impacts of anthropogenic noise on marine mammals: does the perception of bias reflect biased conclusions

    Graduate Students

    • PhD. Tyler Schulz (2007) The production and exchange of sperm whale coda vocalizations
    • PhD. Lars Bejder (2005) Linking short and long-term effects of nature-based tourism on cetaceans
    • MSc. Leah Nemiroff (2009) Structural variation and communicative functions of long-finned pilot whale (Globicephala melas) pulsed calls and complex whistles.

    Some Graduates' Occupations

    • Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow, University of St Andrews, Scotland
    • Species Conservation Manager, World Wildlife Fund Canada
    • Environmental Lawyer, Department of Justice, Ottawa
    • Policy and Decision Analyst, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario
    • Medical School
    • Biologist, Clearwater Fine Foods

    Selected Publications

    Gero, S., D. Engelhaupt, L. Rendell and H. Whitehead.  2009.  Who Cares? Between-group variation in alloparental care-giving in sperm whalesBehavioral Ecology 20: 838-843.

    Whitehead, H. 2009. Estimating abundance from one‑dimensional passive acoustic surveysJournal of Wildlife Management 73: 1000-1009.

    Schulz, T., H. Whitehead, and L. Rendell. 2009. Off-axis effects on the multi-pulse structure of sperm whale coda clicks. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 125: 1768-1773.

    Whitehead, H., and P.J. Richerson. 2009.  The evolution of conformist social learning can cause population collapse in realistically variable environments. Evolution and Human Behavior 30: 261-273.

    Whitehead, H. 2009. SOCPROG programs: analyzing animal social structures. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 63:765-778.

    Gero, S., D. Engelhaupt, and H. Whitehead. 2008. Heterogeneous social associations within a sperm whale, Physeter macrocephalus, unit reflect pairwise relatedness. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 63: 143-151.

    Schulz, T., H. Whitehead, S. Gero, and L. Rendell. 2008. Overlapping and matching of codas in vocal interactions between sperm whales: insights into communication function. Animal Behaviour 76:1977‑1988.

    Marino, L., C. Butti, R. C. Connor, R. E. Fordyce, L. M. Herman, P. R. Hof, L. Lefebvre, D. Lusseau, B. McCowan, E. A. Nimchinsky, A. A. Pack, J. S. Reidenberg, D. Reiss, L. Rendell, M. D. Uhen, E. Van der Gucht and H. Whitehead.  2008.  A claim in search of evidence: Reply to Manger's thermogenesis hypothesis of cetacean brain structureBiological Reviews 83: 417-440.

    Whitehead, H., B. McGill and B. Worm.  2008.  Diversity of deep‑water cetaceans in relation to temperature: implications for ocean warmingEcology Letters 11: 1198-1207.

    Whitehead, H., A. Coakes, N. Jaquet and S. Lusseau.  2008.  Movements of sperm whales in the tropical Pacific.  Marine Ecology Progress Series 361: 291-300.

    Lusseau, D.,  H. Whitehead and S. Gero. 2008. Incorporating uncertainty into the study of animal social networksAnimal Behaviour 75: 1809-1815.


    Photography by Jennifer Modigliani