AB 18:175-184 (2013)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00500

Activity as a proxy to estimate metabolic rate and to partition the metabolic cost of diving vs. breathing in pre- and post-fasted Steller sea lions

A. Fahlman1,*, C. Svärd2, D. A. S. Rosen3, R. P. Wilson4, A. W. Trites3

1Department of Life Sciences, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, 6300 Ocean Drive, Unit 5800, Corpus Christi, Texas 78412, USA
2Swedish Museum of Natural History, Box 50007, S-10405 Stockholm, Sweden
3Marine Mammal Research Unit, Fisheries Centre, Room 247, AERL, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6T 1Z4
4Biosciences, College of Science, Swansea University, Swansea SA2 8PP, Wales, UK

ABSTRACT: Three Steller sea lions Eumetopias jubatus, trained to dive voluntarily to depths ranging from 10 to 50 m, were used to determine whether the relationship between activity and metabolic rate during a diving interval (MRDI, dive + surface interval) was affected by fasting (9 d) during the breeding season (spring through summer). We subsequently used the relationship between activity and MRDI to partition the metabolic costs between underwater breath-holding activity and surface breathing activities. We estimated activity from overall dynamic body acceleration (ODBA) measured using a 3-axis accelerometer, and measured MRDI using flow-through respirometry. The relationship between ODBA-based activity and MRDI was not affected by fasting period, suggesting that ODBA can be used to predict energy expenditure regardless of nutritional state in the spring and summer. However, the relationship between ODBA and dive metabolic rate differs from the relationship between ODBA and the surface metabolic rate before diving. Partitioning MRDI into the metabolic cost of remaining at the surface versus swimming underwater suggests that the metabolic cost of diving for Steller sea lions is approximately 29% lower than when breathing at the surface. ODBA appears to be a reasonable proxy to estimate metabolic rate in marine mammals, but more detailed behavioral data may be required to accurately apply the method in the field.


KEY WORDS: Marine mammal · Breath-hold diving · Field energetics · ODBA


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Cite this article as: Fahlman A, Svärd C, Rosen DAS, Wilson RP, Trites AW (2013) Activity as a proxy to estimate metabolic rate and to partition the metabolic cost of diving vs. breathing in pre- and post-fasted Steller sea lions. Aquat Biol 18:175-184. https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00500

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