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Sexual niche segregation and gender-specific individual specialisation in a highly dimorphic marine mammal

Kernaléguen, Laëtitia, Cherel, Yves, Knox, Travis, Baylis, Alastair M. M. and Arnould, John P. Y. 2015, Sexual niche segregation and gender-specific individual specialisation in a highly dimorphic marine mammal, PLoS one, vol. 10, no. 8, pp. 1-15, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0133018.

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Title Sexual niche segregation and gender-specific individual specialisation in a highly dimorphic marine mammal
Author(s) Kernaléguen, Laëtitia
Cherel, Yves
Knox, Travis
Baylis, Alastair M. M.
Arnould, John P. Y.ORCID iD for Arnould, John P. Y. orcid.org/0000-0003-1124-9330
Journal name PLoS one
Volume number 10
Issue number 8
Start page 1
End page 15
Total pages 15
Publisher Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Place of publication San Francisco, Calif.
Publication date 2015
ISSN 1932-6203
Summary While sexual segregation is expected in highly dimorphic species, the local environment is a major factor driving the degree of resource partitioning within a population. Sexual and individual niche segregation was investigated in the Australian fur seal (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus), which is a benthic foraging species restricted to the shallow continental shelf region of south-eastern Australia. Tracking data and the isotopic values of plasma, red blood cells and whiskers were combined to document spatial and dietary niche segregation throughout the year. Tracking data indicated that, in winter, males and females overlapped in their foraging habitat. All individuals stayed within central Bass Strait, relatively close (< 220 km) to the breeding colony. Accordingly, both genders exhibited similar plasma and red cell δ13C values. However, males exhibited greater δ13C intra-individual variation along the length of their whisker than females. This suggests that males exploited a greater diversity of foraging habitats throughout the year than their female counterparts, which are restricted in their foraging grounds by the need to regularly return to the breeding colony to suckle their pup. The degree of dietary sexual segregation was also surprisingly low, both sexes exhibiting a great overlap in their δ15N values. Yet, males displayed higher δ15N values than females, suggesting they fed upon a higher proportion of higher trophic level prey. Given that males and females exploit different resources (mainly foraging habitats), the degree of individual specialisation might differ between the sexes. Higher degrees of individual specialisation would be expected in males which exploit a greater range of resources. However, comparable levels of inter-individual variation in δ15N whisker values were found in the sampled males and females, and, surprisingly, all males exhibited similar seasonal and inter-annual variation in their δ13C whisker values, suggesting they all followed the same general dispersion pattern throughout the year.
Language eng
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0133018
Field of Research 060201 Behavioural Ecology
060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology)
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2015, Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Free to Read? Yes
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30077893

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Created: Thu, 03 Sep 2015, 15:24:00 EST

Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.