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Temporal allocation of foraging effort in female Australian fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus)

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posted on 2013-11-14, 00:00 authored by Andrew Hoskins, John ArnouldJohn Arnould
Across an individual's life, foraging decisions will be affected by multiple intrinsic and extrinsic drivers that act at differing timescales. This study aimed to assess how female Australian fur seals allocated foraging effort and the behavioural changes used to achieve this at three temporal scales: within a day, across a foraging trip and across the final six months of the lactation period. Foraging effort peaked during daylight hours (57% of time diving) with lulls in activity just prior to and after daylight. Dive duration reduced across the day (196 s to 168 s) but this was compensated for by an increase in the vertical travel rate (1500–1600 m•h−1) and a reduction in postdive duration (111–90 s). This suggests physiological constraints (digestive costs) or prey availability may be limiting mean dive durations as a day progresses. During short trips (<2.9 d), effort remained steady at 55% of time diving, whereas, on long trips (>2.9 d) effort increased up to 2–3 d and then decreased. Dive duration decreased at the same rate in short and long trips, respectively, before stabilising (long trips) between 4–5 d. Suggesting that the same processes (digestive costs or prey availability) working at the daily scale may also be present across a trip. Across the lactation period, foraging effort, dive duration and vertical travel rate increased until August, before beginning to decrease. This suggests that as the nutritional demands of the suckling pup and developing foetus increase, female effort increases to accommodate this, providing insight into the potential constraints of maternal investment in this species









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C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

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2013, Public Library of Science