Franks et al. (2016) consider that the degree of error in estimated ages used to define survivorship patterns of northern and southern resident killer whale (Orcinus orca) populations is of insignificant impact to estimates of the species' postreproductive lifespan (PRLS). We provide evidence that survival probabilities for killer whales using a dataset comprising estimated age animals differ significantly from that determined using data collected from known-age animals in the Pacific Northwest over the past 40 years. Consequently, our findings indicate that the degree of error in age estimates and ensuing survivorship patterns do not support the notion by Franks et al. (2016) of a prolonged PRLS in the female killer whale that is comparable to the PRLS observed in humans.
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Vol. 97 • No. 3