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Milk consumption, body composition and pre-weaning growth rates of Australian fur seal

journal contribution
posted on 2002-01-01, 00:00 authored by John ArnouldJohn Arnould, M Hindell
Pre-weaning growth rates, body composition, milk consumption and mass gain efficiency were measured in Australian fur seal Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus pups born in two consecutive breeding periods. Australian fur seals have the highest birth mass of any fur seal species (male 8.3 kg; female 7.2 kg). While their absolute pre-weaning growth rate (male 62 g·day−1; female 53 g·day−1) is similar to that of other temperate latitude fur seals, they have the longest birth-mass doubling time of any otariid species (134–136 days). Daily milk consumption increased from 400 g·day−1 (5 MJ·day−1) after birth to 675 g·day−1 (13.7 MJ·day−1) at age 210 day. However, mean mass-specific milk consumption (41 g·kg−1) is substantially lower than in other otariid species (58–70 g·kg−1) and, combined with a low mass gain efficiency (0.12 g·g−1), contributes to the low mass-specific growth rates observed. There were no significant differences in either absolute or mass-specific milk consumption between the sexes. Significant differences, however, were found between the sexes in the body composition of pups with females generally having larger body lipid stores than males for any given mass. Peak milk yield by Australian fur seal females is estimated at 0.60 MJkg−0.75, substantially less than in Antarctic fur seals. The low level of maternal energy transfer in Australian fur seals may reflect the relatively low marine productivity of their foraging areas.

History

Journal

Journal of zoology : proceedings of the Zoological Society of London

Volume

256

Issue

3

Pagination

351 - 359

Publisher

Society at Oxford University Press

Location

London, England

ISSN

0952-8369

eISSN

1469-7998

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2002, The Zoological Society of London