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Age-related shifts in the diet composition of southern elephant seals expand overall foraging niche


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Field, IC, Bradshaw, CJA, van den Hoff, J, Burton, HR and Hindell, MA 2007 , 'Age-related shifts in the diet composition of southern elephant seals expand overall foraging niche' , Marine Biology, vol. 150, no. 6 , pp. 1441-1452 , doi: 10.1007/s00227-006-0417-y.

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Southern elephant seals are important apex
predators in a highly variable and unpredictable marine
environment. In the presence of resource limitation,
foraging behaviours evolve to reduce intraspecific
competition increasing a species’ overall
probability of successful foraging. We examined the
diet of 141 (aged 1–3 years) juvenile southern elephant
seals to test the hypotheses that differences between
ages, sexes and seasons in diet structure occur. We
described prey species composition for common squid
and fish species and the mean size of cephalopod prey
items for these age groups. Three cephalopod species
dominated the stomach samples, Alluroteuthis antarcticus,
Histioteuthis eltaninae and Slosarczykovia circumantarcticus.
We found age-related differences in
both species composition and size of larger prey species
that probably relate to ontogenetic changes in
diving ability and haul-out behaviour and prey availability.
These changes in foraging behaviour and diet
are hypothesised to reduce intra-specific food competition
concomitant with the increase in foraging niche
of growing juveniles.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Field, IC and Bradshaw, CJA and van den Hoff, J and Burton, HR and Hindell, MA
Journal or Publication Title: Marine Biology
Publisher: Springer
ISSN: 0025-3162
DOI / ID Number: 10.1007/s00227-006-0417-y
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