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Weddell seal behaviour during an exceptional oceanographic event in the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf in 2017

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Labrousse, S, Ryan, S, Roquet, F, Picard, B, McMahon, CR, Harcourt, R, Hindell, M ORCID: 0000-0002-7823-7185, Le Goff, H, Lourenco, A, David, Y, Sallee, JB and Charrassin, JB 2021 , 'Weddell seal behaviour during an exceptional oceanographic event in the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf in 2017' , Antarctic Science, vol. 33, no. 3 , pp. 252-264 , doi: 10.1017/S0954102021000092.

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Abstract

Rapid and regionally contrasting climate changes have been observed around Antarctica. However, our understanding of the impact of these changes on ecosystems remains limited, and there is an urgent need to better identify habitats of Antarctic species. The Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddellii) is a circumpolar mesopredator and an indicative species of Antarctic marine communities. It has been extensively studied in the western Ross Sea and East Antarctica, and an understanding of its ecology in the Weddell Sea in the wintertime is emerging. We documented the behavioural response(s) of four Weddell seals from February to June in 2017 in the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf region and related these to unusual oceanographic conditions in 2017. Unexpectedly, we found that Weddell seals had the longest foraging effort within the outflow of Ice Shelf Water or at its turbulent boundary. They also foraged on the eastern side of the trough from April to June within the Modified Warm Deep Water and seem to take advantage of the unusual conditions of persistent inflow of warm waters through the winter. Linking animal behavioural responses to oceanographic conditions is informative for quantifying rarely recorded events and provides great insight into how predators may respond to changing conditions.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Labrousse, S and Ryan, S and Roquet, F and Picard, B and McMahon, CR and Harcourt, R and Hindell, M and Le Goff, H and Lourenco, A and David, Y and Sallee, JB and Charrassin, JB
Keywords: Antarctic predators, bio-telemetry, foraging behaviour, physical oceanography, spatial ecology, Weddell Sea
Journal or Publication Title: Antarctic Science
Publisher: Cambridge Univ Press
ISSN: 0954-1020
DOI / ID Number: 10.1017/S0954102021000092
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2021 The Author(s). Published by Cambridge University PressLicensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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