MEPS 414:267-291 (2010)  -  doi:10.3354/meps08683

Acoustic ecology of Antarctic pinnipeds

Ilse Van Opzeeland1,*, Sofie Van Parijs2, Horst Bornemann1, Stephan Frickenhaus1, Lars Kindermann1, Holger Klinck3, Joachim Plötz1, Olaf Boebel1

1Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Am Handelshafen 12, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
2Northeast Fisheries Science Center, NOAA, 166 Water Street, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA
3Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies, Oregon State University, Hatfield Marine Science Center, 2030 SE Marine Science Drive, Newport, Oregon 97365, USA

ABSTRACT: In aquatic-mating pinnipeds, acoustic communication plays an important role in male competition and mate attraction. Vocal repertoire size and composition during the breeding season varies between species and is presumed to be a product of interspecific differences in sexual selection. In this study, we examine seasonal and diel patterns in acoustic repertoire size, composition and call activity of 4 Antarctic pinniped species: Weddell seal Leptonychotes weddellii, leopard seal Hydrurga leptonyx, Ross seal Ommatophoca rossii and crabeater seal Lobodon carcinophaga. An 11 mo (Jan 2006 – Jan 2007, no recordings Jul and Nov 2006) near-continuous dataset was collected from the Perennial Acoustic Observatory in the Antarctic Ocean (PALAOA) located on the Ekström Iceshelf. The Weddell seal vocal repertoire consisted of 14 call types. Calls were present throughout the year except in February (11 mo), while repertoire composition varied considerably between months. The leopard seal vocal repertoire consisted of 7 call types. Calls were present between October and January (4 mo). All call types were used in a uniform manner throughout the entire call period. The Ross seal vocal repertoire consisted of 5 call types. Ross seal vocalizations were present from December until February (3 mo). Repertoire composition varied little between months. Crabeater seals produced one vocalization type, present from August to December (5 mo). Vocalizations in these species are likely produced in a breeding context. Inter-specific differences in behavioral ecology and interactions with abiotic and biotic environmental factors shape vocal behavior resulting in each species filling its own acoustic ecological niche.

KEY WORDS: Weddell seal · Leptonychotes weddellii · Leopard seal · Hydrurga leptonyx · Ross seal · Ommatophoca rossii · Crabeater seal · Lobodon carcinophaga · Vocal repertoire · Vocal activity · Aquatic mating · Acoustic ecology

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Cite this article as: Van Opzeeland I, Van Parijs S, Bornemann H, Frickenhaus S and others (2010) Acoustic ecology of Antarctic pinnipeds. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 414:267-291

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