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Ontogenetic niche partitioning in southern elephant seals from Argentine Patagonia


Campagna, J and Lewis, MN and Carman, VG and Campagna, C and Guinet, C and Johnson, M and Davis, RW and Rodriguez, DH and Hindell, MA, Ontogenetic niche partitioning in southern elephant seals from Argentine Patagonia, Marine Mammal Science, 37, (2) pp. 631-651. ISSN 0824-0469 (2020) [Refereed Article]

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© 2020 Society for Marine Mammalogy

DOI: doi:10.1111/mms.12770


Elephant seals, Mirounga spp., are highly dimorphic, having different energetic requirements according to age and sex, and foraging in various ecological and oceanographic contexts. Resource partitioning has been shown for the sub‐Antarctic populations of southern elephant seals, M. leonina, where colonies are surrounded by narrow shelves that deepen abruptly. In contrast, seals from Península Valdés (Argentina), in the northernmost extent of the breeding range, face an extended, shallow, temperate, and productive continental shelf. We integrated tracking data from 98 animals (juveniles and adults, males and females) gathered over more than two decades, and found that although all available habitats were used, individuals segregated by age and sex. Juvenile males favored shelf habitats, whereas subadult and adult males also used the shelf break. Juvenile females preferred the shelf and the more distant Argentine Basin used by postbreeding and postmolt adult females. Males showed the highest proportion of area‐restricted search locations, suggesting more spatially concentrated feeding activity, and likely reflecting a preference for foraging habitat and prey. Our results are consistent with those from other populations, implying that elephant seals show remarkable similarities in habitat use by age and sex classes, despite broad differences in the offshore habitats between sub‐Antarctic and temperate ecosystems.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Southern Ocean, tracking, management, elephant seals, Mirounga leonina, niche partitioning, ontogeny, Península Valdés, South Atlantic Ocean
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Behavioural ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Coastal and estuarine systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems
UTAS Author:Hindell, MA (Professor Mark Hindell)
ID Code:142218
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2020-12-23
Last Modified:2021-09-23

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