The physiological and behavioural development of diving in Australian fur seal (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus) pups

Spence-Bailey, L., Verrier, D. and Arnould, John 2007, The physiological and behavioural development of diving in Australian fur seal (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus) pups, Journal of comparative physiology, vol. 177, no. 4, pp. 483-494.


Title The physiological and behavioural development of diving in Australian fur seal (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus) pups
Author(s) Spence-Bailey, L.
Verrier, D.
Arnould, John
Journal name Journal of comparative physiology
Volume number 177
Issue number 4
Start page 483
End page 494
Publisher Springer
Place of publication Berlin, Germany
Publication date 2007-05
ISSN 0174-1578
1432-136X
Keyword(s) aerobic dive limit
Benthic foraging
diving behaviour
total body oxygen stores
Australian fur seal
Summary The physiological and behavioural development of diving was examined in Australian fur seal (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus) pups to assess whether animals at weaning are capable of exploiting the same resources as adult females. Haematocrit, haemoglobin and myoglobin contents all increased throughout pup development though total body oxygen stores reached only 71% of adult female levels just prior to weaning. Oxygen storage components, however, did not develop at the same pace. Whereas blood oxygen stores had reached adult female levels by 9 months of age, muscle oxygen stores were slower to develop, reaching only 23% of adult levels by this age. Increases in diving behaviour corresponded to the physiological changes observed. Pups spent little time (<8%) in the water prior to moulting (age 1–2 months) whereas following the moult, they spent >27% of time in the water and made mid-water dives (maximum depth 35.7 ± 2.9 m) with durations of 0.35 ± 0.03 min. By 9 months (just prior to weaning), 30.5 ± 9.3% of all dives performed were U-shaped benthic dives (maximum depth 65.0 ± 6.0 m) with mean durations of 0.87 ± 0.25 min, significantly shorter than those of adult females. These results suggest that while Australian fur seal pups approaching the age of weaning are able to reach similar depths as adult females, they do not have the physiological capacity to remain at these depths for sufficient durations to exploit them to the same efficiency.
Language eng
Field of Research 060203 Ecological Physiology
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2007, Springer
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30007304

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Life and Environmental Sciences
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