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Ontogenetic niche partitioning in southern elephant seals from Argentine Patagonia

Campagna, J, Lewis, MN, Carman, VG, Campagna, C, Guinet, C, Johnson, M, Davis, RW, Rodriguez, DH and Hindell, MA ORCID: 0000-0002-7823-7185 2020 , 'Ontogenetic niche partitioning in southern elephant seals from Argentine Patagonia' , Marine Mammal Science, vol. 37, no. 2 , 631–651 , doi: 10.1111/mms.12770.

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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 Type: Article
Authors/Creators: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
Keywords: Southern Ocean, tracking, management, elephant seals, Mirounga leonina, niche partitioning, ontogeny, Península Valdés, South Atlantic Ocean
Journal or Publication Title: Marine Mammal Science
Publisher: Soc Marine Mammalogy
ISSN: 0824-0469
DOI / ID Number: 10.1111/mms.12770
Copyright Information:

© 2020 Society for Marine Mammalogy

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