Marine mammals face a large array of stressors, including loss of habitat, chemical and noise pollution, and bycatch in fishing, which alone kills hundreds of thousands of marine mammals per year globally. To discern the factors contributing to population trends, scientists must consider the full complement of threats faced by marine mammals. Once populations or ecosystems are found to be at risk of adverse impacts, it is critical to decide which combination of stressors to reduce to bring the population or ecosystem into a more favorable state. Assessing all stressors facing a marine mammal population also provides the environmental context for evaluating whether an additional activity could threaten it.
Approaches to Understanding the Cumulative Effects of Stressors on Marine Mammals builds upon previous reports to assess current methodologies used for evaluating cumulative effects and identify new approaches that could improve these assessments. This review focuses on ways to quantify exposure-related changes in the behavior, health, or body condition of individual marine mammals and makes recommendations for future research initiatives.