Thomas Doniol-Valcroze

Image Doniol-Valcroze, Thomas
Research Scientist

Head, Cetacean Research Program

Current research and/or projects

Thomas Doniol-Valcroze started to work on marine mammals in 1995 at the Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS), a research station located on the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Quebec. He worked there for almost ten years as a research assistant and to complete fieldwork for his Ph.D. thesis on rorqual whale habitat. In 2008, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Maurice Lamontagne Institute with Dr Véronique Lesage on the foraging ecology of blue whales.

In 2009, he was hired as a DFO stock assessment biologist for Nunavik marine mammals. His work focused on species harvested by Inuit as part of their subsistence hunt (e.g., beluga, seals, walrus). He studied population size, migratory pathways, impacts of climate change on marine mammal distribution and habitat, as well as the sustainability of subsistence hunting in a changing Arctic. He also participated in St. Lawrence beluga surveys and population modelling, and collaborated on projects on the ecology, habitat and foraging of large whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

From 2015 to 2017, he worked as a stock assessment biologist for herring and mackerel, and his research focused on environmental drivers of recruitment in pelagic fish. Then in August 2017, he moved to the Pacific Region as head of the Cetacean Research Program, with projects focussing on killer whale population dynamics and large whale critical habitat.

Education and awards

B.Sc. Biology (1998) – Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie (Paris, France)
M.Sc. Wildlife biology (2002) – McGill University (Montreal)
Ph.D. Wildlife biology (2008) – McGill University (Montreal)

Key publications

Hersh et al. 2022. Symbolic marking in non-human cultures: evidence from sperm whale clans. PNAS 119 (37) e2201692119


Halliday, WD, N Le Baron, JJ Citta, J Dawson, T Doniol-Valcroze, M Ferguson, SH Ferguson, S Fortune, LA Harwood, MP Heide-Jørgensen, EV Lea, L Quakenbush, BG Young, D Yurkowski, SJ Insley. Vessel strike risk to bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) in the North American Arctic during July to October and implications for conservation and management. In press, Biological Conservation.


Tavares, SB, H Whitehead & T Doniol-Valcroze. 2022. Assessing social structure: a data-driven approach to define associations between individuals. Mammalian Biology (Special Issue).


Halliday, D, J Dawson, DJ Yurkowski, T Doniol-Valcroze, SH Ferguson, C Gjerdrum, NE Hussey, Z Kochanowicz, ML Mallory, M Marcoux, CA Watt & SP Wong. 2022. Vessel Risks to Marine Wildlife in the Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area and the Eastern Entrance to the Northwest Passage. Environmental Science & Policy 127: 181-195.


Ferguson, SH, JW Higdon, PA Hall, R Hansen & T Doniol-Valcroze. 2021. Developing a Precautionary Management Approach for the Eastern Canada-West Greenland population of Bowhead Whales (Balaena mysticetus). Frontiers in Marine Science 8:709989.


Lybkær Kronborg Nielsen, M, S Ellis, JR Towers, T Doniol-Valcroze, D Franks, M Cant, M Weiss, R Johnstone, KC Balcomb, DK Ellifrit & DP Croft. 2021. A long post-reproductive lifespan is a shared trait among genetically distinct killer whales. Nature Ecology & Evolution 00:1–14.


Murray, CC, L Hannah, T Doniol-Valcroze, B Wright, E Stredulinsky, JC Nelson, A Locke & RC Lacy. 2021. A cumulative effects model for population trajectories of resident killer whales in the Northeast Pacific. Biological Conservation 257:109124.


Doniol-Valcroze, T, J-F Gosselin, D Pike, J Lawson, N Asselin, K Hedges & SH Ferguson. 2020. Abundance estimate of the Eastern Canada – West Greenland bowhead whale population based on the 2013 High Arctic Cetacean Survey. NAMMCO Scientific Publications 11.


Doniol-Valcroze, T, J-F Gosselin, D Pike, J Lawson, N Asselin, K Hedges & SH Ferguson. 2020. Narwhal abundance in the eastern Canadian High Arctic in 2013. NAMMCO Scientific Publications 11.


Watt, C., T Doniol-Valcroze, L Witting, R Hobbs, R Guldborg Hansen, DS Lee, M Marcoux, V Lesage, E Garde, SH Ferguson & MP Heide-Jørgensen. 2020. Hunt allocation modeling for migrating animals: the case of Baffin Bay narwhal. Marine Fisheries Review 81(3-4):125-136.–4.8


Witting, L, T Doniol-Valcroze, RC Hobbs, S Ditlevsen & MP Heide-Jorgensen. 2020. Meta-population Modelling of Narwhals, Monodon monoceros, in East Canada and West Greenland. Marine Fisheries Review 81(3-4):116-124.–4.7


Guilpin, M, V Lesage, I McQuinn, P Brosset, T Doniol-Valcroze, T Jeanniard-du-Dot & G Winkler. 2020. Repeated vessel interactions and climate- or fishery-driven changes in prey density limit energy acquisition by foraging blue whales. Frontiers in Marine Science 7:626.


Nattrass, S, DP Croft, S Ellis, MA Cant, MN Weiss, BM Wright, E Stredulinsky, T Doniol-Valcroze, JKB Ford, KC Balcomb & DW Franks. 2019. Postreproductive killer whale grandmothers improve the survival of their grandoffspring.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201903844;


Mbaye, B, T Doniol-Valcroze, P Brosset, M Castonguay, E Beveren, A Smith, C Lehoux, D Brickman, Z Wang & S Plourde. 2019. Modelling Atlantic mackerel spawning habitat suitability and its future distribution in the north-west Atlantic. Fisheries Oceanography. 10.1111/fog.12456.


Guilpin, M, V Lesage, I McQuinn, JA Goldbogen, J Potvin, T Jeanniard-du-Dot, T Doniol-Valcroze, R Michaud, M Moisan & G Winkler. 2019. Foraging energetics and prey density requirements of western North Atlantic blue whales in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada. Marine Ecology Progress Series 625:205-223


Brosset, P, T Doniol-Valcroze, DP Swain , C Lehoux, E Van Beveren, BC Mbaye & S Plourde. 2019. Environmental variability controls recruitment but with different drivers among spawning components in Gulf of St. Lawrence herring stocks. Fisheries Oceanography 28:1-17


Benoît, HP, DP Swain, JA Hutchings, D Knox, T Doniol-Valcroze & CM Bourne. 2018. Evidence for reproductive senescence in a broadly distributed harvested marine fish. Marine Ecology Progress Series 592:207-224


Beveren, E. Van, D Duplisea, M Castonguay, T Doniol-valcroze, S Plourde & N Cadigan. 2017. How catch underreporting can bias stock assessment of and advice for northwest Atlantic mackerel and a possible resolution using censored catch. Fisheries Research 194:146-154.


Lesage, V, A Omrane, T Doniol-Valcroze & A Mosnier. 2017. Increased proximity of vessels reduces feeding opportunities of blue whales in the St. Lawrence Estuary, Canada. Endangered Species Research 32:351-361


Hammill, MO, GB Stenson, T Doniol-Valcroze & A Mosnier. 2015. Conservation of northwest Atlantic harp seals: Past success, future uncertainty? Biological Conservation 192:181-191


Mosnier, A, T Doniol-Valcroze, J-F Gosselin, V Lesage, L Measures & MO Hammill. 2015. Insights into processes of population decline using an integrated population model: The case of the St. Lawrence Estuary beluga (Delphinapterus leucas). Ecological Modelling 314:15-31


Doniol-Valcroze, T, V Lesage, J Giard & R Michaud. 2012. Challenges in marine mammal habitat modelling: evidence of multiple foraging habitats from the identification of feeding events in blue whales. Endangered Species Research 17:255-268


Doniol-Valcroze, T, V Lesage, J Giard & R Michaud. 2011. Optimal foraging theory predicts diving and feeding strategies of the largest marine predator. Behavioral Ecology 22:880-888


Doniol-Valcroze, T, D Berteaux, P Larouche & R Sears. 2007. Influence of thermal fronts on the distribution of four species of rorqual whales from the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Marine Ecology Progress Series 335:207-216

Research facility

3190 Hammond Bay Road
Nanaimo, BC V9T 6N7