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Chaired session on Climate Change: Climate influences on dispersal and survival of northern fur seal pups


Lea, MA and Sterling, JT and Bond, N and Melin, S and Ream, RR and Gelatt, T, Chaired session on Climate Change: Climate influences on dispersal and survival of northern fur seal pups, 25th International Congress for Conservation Biology Abstracts, 5-9 December, Auckland, New Zealand, pp. 92. (2011) [Chair International Conference]

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Northern fur seal pups, Callorhinus ursinus, from declining populations in the Bering Sea contend with extreme and highly variable oceanic conditions during their first winter migrations. Understanding how naive animals from increasing and decreasing populations respond to changeable environmental cues is fundamental to disentangling possible mechanisms driving observed, large-scale declines. We tracked 166 newly-weaned pups from four North American populations, both increasing and decreasing, to determine the influence of wind conditions, sea surface height and temperature and proximity to productive frontal features on the foraging state of individual pups. Pups conducted far-ranging migrations across the North Pacific Ocean, triggered by the onset of autumnal storms. At-sea conditions differed markedly between the two years as did pup movements. Alaskan pups travelled faster when ‘assisted’ by tailwinds and spent more time in northern latitudes in less stormy years. The migration patterns of pups were more random than those published for adults also indicating that young animals undergo a period of learning at sea. We provide examples and speculate on how storms may impact survival of naive pups, particularly in years when pup weaning mass is low. We conclude that increasing intensity and frequency of storm events in the North Pacific Ocean could have repercussions on pup behaviour and population demographics of Northern fur seals across their range.

Item Details

Item Type:Chair International Conference
Keywords:climate change, migration, storms
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Wildlife and habitat management
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems
UTAS Author:Lea, MA (Professor Mary-Anne Lea)
ID Code:101308
Year Published:2011
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2015-06-16
Last Modified:2015-06-18

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