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Environmental influences on breeding biology and pup production in Australian fur seals

journal contribution
posted on 2022-04-01, 00:00 authored by J J Geeson, A J Hobday, C N Speakman, John ArnouldJohn Arnould

Knowledge of factors affecting a species' breeding biology is crucial to understanding how environmental variability impacts population trajectories and enables predictions on how species may respond to global change. The Australian fur seal (
Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus
, AUFS) represents the largest marine predator biomass in southeastern Australia, an oceanic region experiencing rapid warming that will impact the abundance and distribution of prey. The present study (1997–2020) investigated breeding phenology and pup production in AUFS on Kanowna Island, northern Bass Strait. The pupping period varied by 11 days and the median pupping date by 8 days and were negatively correlated to 1- and 2-year lagged winter zonal winds, respectively, within Bass Strait. While there was no temporal trend over the study period, annual pup production (1386–2574 pups) was negatively correlated to 1-year lagged summer zonal winds in the Bonney Upwelling region and positively correlated to the current-year Southern Oscillation Index (SOI). In addition, a fecundity index (ratio of new-born pups to adult females at the median pupping date) was positively correlated with current-year Southern Annular Mode (SAM) conditions. Periods of positive SOI and positive SAM conditions are forecast to increase in coming decades, suggesting advantageous conditions for the Kanowna Island AUFS population.

History

Journal

Royal Society Open Science

Volume

9

Issue

4

Article number

211399

Pagination

1 - 20

Publisher

The Royal Society

Location

London, Eng.

ISSN

2054-5703

eISSN

2054-5703

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal