AB 20:235-243 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00557

Diet of the South American sea lion Otaria flavescens during the summer season at Río Negro, Patagonia, Argentina

Raimundo Lucas Bustos1,*, Gustavo Adolfo Daneri1, Alejandra Vanina Volpedo2, Ana Harrington1, Esperanza Amalia Varela1

1Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales ‘Bernardino Rivadavia’, Div. Mastozoología, Av. Angel Gallardo 470 (C1405DJR), Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina
2Centro de estudios Transdisciplinarios del Agua-CONICET, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Av. Chorroarín 280 (1428), Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The South American sea lion Otaria flavescens population from northern Patagonia was under intensive commercial harvesting pressure between 1930 and 1950 and is currently increasing at a rate of nearly 6% yr-1. Food availability in the oceans is one of the most important factors influencing the survival and dynamics of marine mammal populations. The objective of the present study was to determine the summer diet of O. flavescens by faecal analysis, in order to assess its trophic behavior, determine whether there are interannual differences in diet composition, and evaluate the potential interaction between fisheries operating in the study area and the species. Present results show that O. flavescens preys mainly on fish species, with Raneya brasiliensis being the most frequent (frequency of occurrence, %FO = 65.7) and abundant (%N = 47.9) fish prey. Cephalopods were the second most important prey item in terms of %FO (42.6%), with the highest index of relative importance corresponding to the octopod Octopus tehuelches. Since these prey taxa are not targeted by the commercial fishing fleet that operates in the study area, the overlap in the use of resources by O. flavescens and fisheries may not be substantial. Given that the biomass of the prey species mentioned above is not directly affected by fishery activities during summer, a greater amount of food may be available for sea lions, with this factor possibly contributing to the population recovery in the area.

KEY WORDS: Otaria flavescens · Summer diet · Scats · Patagonia · Argentina

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Cite this article as: Bustos RL, Daneri GA, Volpedo AV, Harrington A, Varela EA (2014) Diet of the South American sea lion Otaria flavescens during the summer season at Río Negro, Patagonia, Argentina. Aquat Biol 20:235-243. https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00557

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