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Environmental and senescent related variations in Weddell seal body mass: implications for age-specific reproductive performance

Proffitt, KM, Garrott, RA, Rotella, JJ and Wheatley, KE 2007 , 'Environmental and senescent related variations in Weddell seal body mass: implications for age-specific reproductive performance' , Oikos, vol. 116, no. 10 , pp. 1683-1690 , doi:

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Recent studies have found age-specific variations in reproductive performance amongst Weddell seals,
Leptonychotes weddellii , and we hypothesized age-related variations in maternal body mass as a mechanism
linking maternal age and the observed patterns of reproductive performance. We evaluated the effects of
maternal traits such as age and reproductive experience and the effects of environmental variations on maternal
body mass at parturition. Maternal body mass at parturition showed substantial age- and environmental-related
variations. Maternal body mass increased with age through the young and middle ages, and evidence of
senescent declines in body mass was found amongst the oldest ages. Additionally, body mass at parturition was
strongly influenced by environmental variations during the pregnancy period, specifically sea-ice extent and the
state of the El-Nin˜o Southern Oscillation. Patterns of age-specific variations in body mass were consistent with
age-specific patterns of offspring survival probability, which supported our hypothesis that changes in body mass
link maternal age and reproductive performance in the Weddell seal. Further, environmental conditions during
pregnancy may be an important component of Weddell seal reproductive performance.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Proffitt, KM and Garrott, RA and Rotella, JJ and Wheatley, KE
Journal or Publication Title: Oikos
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing
ISSN: 0030-1299
DOI / ID Number:
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