Estimation of body mass in the southern elephant seal, Mirounga leonina, by photogrammetry and morphometrics
Bell, CM and Hindell, MA and Burton, HR, Estimation of body mass in the southern elephant seal, Mirounga leonina, by photogrammetry and morphometrics, Marine Mammal Science, 13, (4) pp. 669-682. ISSN 0824-0469 (1997) [Refereed Article]
A simple photographic technique was developed to indirectly estimate body mass data for southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina) cows (postlactation), yearlings, and immature males and females. Regressions of mass on both photographic and morphometric variables (together and separately) yielded useful, predictable models. Using such variables, the best estimation of the actual mass was for postlactation cows, with a 95% confidence interval of ± 2.66% of the predicted body mass. Although combining photographic and morphometric variables produced the most reliable models specifically for cows and yearlings, the most practical model contained only the morphometric variables length and girth squared. Side area was the best correlated single photographic variable and this corresponded with other studies. Photogrammetry could be useful when animals cannot be sedated and are located on a flat surface, but it does require animals to be motionless when approached. Thus, the procedure may be more suited to bulls rather than other age classes and could have a role in studies where large numbers of mass estimations are rapidly required. If sedation is utilized in smaller animals, then the use of body length and girth is the most suitable indirect mass estimation technique to avoid the use of heavy weighing equipment.