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Aquatic Biology

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AB 2:75-84 (2008)  -  DOI:

Activity and diving metabolism correlate in Steller sea lion Eumetopias jubatus

Andreas Fahlman1,*, Rory Wilson2, Caroline Svärd1, David A. S. Rosen1, Andrew W. Trites1

1Marine Mammal Research Unit, Fisheries Centre, Room 247, AERL—Aquatic Ecosystems Research Laboratory, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z4, Canada
2Biological Sciences, University of Wales Swansea, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK

ABSTRACT: Three Steller sea lions Eumetopias jubatus were trained to participate in free-swimming, open-ocean experiments designed to determine if activity can be used to estimate the energetic cost of finding prey at depth. Sea lions were trained to dive to fixed depths of 10 to 50 m, and to re-surface inside a floating dome to measure energy expenditure via gas exchange. A 3-axis accelerometer was attached to the sea lions during foraging. Acceleration data were used to determine the overall dynamic body acceleration (ODBA), a proxy for activity. Results showed that ODBA correlated well with the diving metabolic rate (dive + surface interval) and that the variability in the relationship (r2 = 0.47, linear regression including Sea lion as a random factor) was similar to that reported for other studies that used heart rate to estimate metabolic rate for sea lions swimming underwater in a 2 m deep water channel. A multivariate analysis suggested that both ODBA and dive duration were important for predicting diving metabolic cost, but ODBA alone predicted foraging cost to within 7% between animals. Consequently, collecting 3-dimensional acceleration data is a simple technique to estimate field metabolic rate of wild Steller sea lions and other diving mammals and birds.

KEY WORDS: Marine mammal · Acceleration · Foraging cost · Respirometry · Field research

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Cite this article as: Fahlman A, Wilson R, Svärd C, Rosen DAS, Trites AW (2008) Activity and diving metabolism correlate in Steller sea lion Eumetopias jubatus. Aquat Biol 2:75-84.

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