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Intertrip consistency in hunting behavior improves foraging success and efficiency in a marine top predator


Speakman, CN and Lloyd, ST and Camprasse, ECM and Hoskins, AJ and Hindell, MA and Costa, DP and Arnould, JPY, Intertrip consistency in hunting behavior improves foraging success and efficiency in a marine top predator, Ecology and Evolution, 11, (9) pp. 4428-4441. ISSN 2045-7758 (2021) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

2021 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, ( which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

DOI: doi:10.1002/ece3.7337


Substantial variation in foraging strategies can exist within populations, even those typically regarded as generalists. Specializations arise from the consistent exploitation of a narrow behavioral, spatial or dietary niche over time, which may reduce intraspecific competition and influence adaptability to environmental change. However, few studies have investigated whether behavioral consistency confers benefits at the individual and/or population level. While still recovering from commercial sealing overexploitation, Australian fur seals (AUFS; Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus) represent the largest marine predator biomass in south-eastern Australia. During lactation, female AUFS adopt a central-place foraging strategy and are, thus, vulnerable to changes in prey availability. The present study investigated the population-level repeatability and individual consistency in foraging behavior of 34 lactating female AUFS at a south-east Australian breeding colony between 2006 and 2019. Additionally, the influence of individual-level behavioral consistency on indices of foraging success and efficiency during benthic diving was determined. Low to moderate population-level repeatability was observed across foraging behaviors, with the greatest repeatability in the mean bearing and modal dive depth. Individual-level consistency was greatest for the proportion of benthic diving, total distance travelled, and trip duration. Indices of benthic foraging success and efficiency were positively influenced by consistency in the proportion of benthic diving, trip duration and dive rate but not influenced by consistency in bearing to most distal point, dive depth or foraging site fidelity. The results of the present study provide evidence of the benefits of consistency for individuals, which may have flow-on effects at the population level.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:central-place foraging, foraging behavior, intraindividual variation, marine predator, repeatability, specialization
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Hindell, MA (Professor Mark Hindell)
ID Code:151551
Year Published:2021
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Australian Antarctic Program Partnership
Deposited On:2022-08-01
Last Modified:2022-09-06
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