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Bottom-up regulation of a pole-ward migratory predator population


van den Hoff, J and McMahon, CR and Simpkins, GR and Hindell, MA and Alderman, R and Burton, HA, Bottom-up regulation of a pole-ward migratory predator population, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 281, (1782) Article 20132842. ISSN 0962-8452 (2014) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2014 The Royal Society

DOI: doi:10.1098/rspb.2013.2842


As the effects of regional climate change aremost pronounced at polar latitudes, we might expect polar-ward migratory populations to respond as habitat suitability changes. The southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina L.) is a pole-ward migratory species whose populations have mostly stabilized or increased in the past decade, the one exception being the Macquarie Island population which has decreased continuously over the past 50 years. To explore probable causes of this anomalous trend, we counted breeding female seals annually between 1988 and 2011 in order to relate annual rates of population change (r) to foraging habitat changes that have known connections with atmospheric variability.We found r (i) varied annually from 20.016 to 0.021 over the study period, (ii) was most effected by anomalous atmospheric variability after a 3 year time lag was introduced (R = 0.51) and (iii) was associated with sea-ice duration (SID) within the sealsí foraging range at the same temporal lag. Negative r years may be extrapolated to explain, at least partially, the overall trend in seal abundance at Macquarie Island; specifically, increasing SID within the seals foraging range has a negative influence on their abundance at the island. Evidence is accruing that suggests southern elephant seal populations may respond positively to a reduced sea-ice field.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Southern Ocean, predators, ecology, climate change, Mirounga leonina, rate of population change, sea-ice duration, southern annular mode, winners and losers
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Coastal and estuarine systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems
UTAS Author:McMahon, CR (Dr Clive McMahon)
UTAS Author:Hindell, MA (Professor Mark Hindell)
ID Code:92725
Year Published:2014
Web of Science® Times Cited:36
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2014-06-26
Last Modified:2017-11-01

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