Population Viability Analysis of Southern Resident killer whales

Expert report on the future of Canada's southern resident killer whales

Robert C. Lacy, Kenneth C. Balcomb III, Lauren J.N. Brent, Darren P. Croft, Christopher W. Clark and Paul C. Paquet. 2015.  Report on Population Viability Analysis model investigations of threats to the Southern Resident Killer Whale population From Trans Mountain Expansion Project.

RCF- SRKW PVA for NEB -May 2015

This expert testimony/report conducted by leading scientists studying killer whales, acoustics and endangered populations describes a Population Viability Analysis (PVA). A PVA can assess risks to wildlife populations and evaluate the likely effectiveness of recovery options. This PVA assessed the viability of the southern residents in light of their cumulative disturbances and threats, including increased ocean noise resulting from additional vessel traffic and oil spills. It also examined the role of Chinook salmon abundance and contaminants. The Southern Resident population has experienced almost no population growth over the past four decades, and has declined in the last two decades. Our analysis shows that increased traffic and noise conditions will intensify existing threats, accelerating their rate of decline and possibly leading to complete extinction. Conversely, reducing existing vessel noise and increasing Chinook availability increases their likelihood of long term survival.

A newer version of this PVA was published in the journal Scientific Reports.  It considers more than TransMountain and examines their capacity to recover under various scenarios.


Robert C. Lacy, PhD.
Senior Conservation Scientist, Chicago Zoological Society

Ken C. Balcomb III
Executive Director and Senior Scientist Center for Whale Research

Lauren J.N. Brent, PhD
Associate Research Fellow, Center for Excellence in Animal Behaviour,
University of Exeter Post doctoral Associate, Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, Duke University

Darren P.Croft,  PhD
Associate Professor of Animal Behaviour University of Exeter

Christopher W. Clark, PhD
ImogeneP. Johnson Senior Scientist, Bioacoustics  Research  Program Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Senior Scientist, Department of Neuro biology and Behavior, Cornell University

Paul C. Paquet, PhD.
Senior Scientist, Raincoast Conservation Foundation


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