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Aquatic Biology

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AB 23:39-47 (2014)  -  DOI:

Latitudinal variation in local productivity influences body condition of South American sea lion pups

Maritza Sepúlveda1,2,*, Danai Olea1, Pablo Carrasco3,4, Macarena Santos-Carvallo1,2, Jorge Castillo5, Renato A. Quiñones3,4

1Centro de Investigación y Gestión de los Recursos Naturales (CIGREN), Instituto de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Valparaíso, Gran Bretaña 1111, Playa Ancha, Valparaíso 2360102, Chile
2Centro de Investigación Eutropia, Ahumada 131 Oficina 912, Santiago 8320238, Chile
3Programa de Investigación Marina de Excelencia (PIMEX), Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Oceanográficas, Casilla 160-C, Universidad de Concepción, Concepción 4070205, Chile
4Interdisciplinary Center for Aquaculture Research (INCAR-FONDAP), Universidad de Concepción, O’Higgins 1695, Concepción 4070007, Chile
5Instituto de Fomento Pesquero, Casilla 8v, Valparaíso, Almte. Manuel Blanco Encalada 839, Valparaíso 2361827, Chile
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: In otariids, the condition and growth of offspring are linked to prey availability because females show a strong dependence on local food availability. Thus, it is expected that body condition of sea lion pups will vary spatially and/or temporally as a response to variations in the abundance of prey species on which females feed. The objective of this study was to analyze the geographic and temporal variation in the body condition of South American sea lion Otaria flavescens pups in Chile, and to relate it to spatio-temporal variations in prey availability. We captured 340 live pups in 2 distant colonies, Punta Patache/Punta Negra and Cobquecura, along the Chilean coast during consecutive breeding seasons. A morphometric index of pup body condition was estimated by comparing pups in all years using least-squares linear regression of the log10‑transformed measurements of standard length vs. body mass. We analyzed the relationship between this index and estimates of fish biomass (as a proxy of prey availability) at each locality. We found that body condition was significantly different between years and between colonies, suggesting that animals of the central-south area were in better condition than those in the north. A positive relationship between body condition and fish biomass was found, suggesting that differences in body condition may be explained by spatial and temporal differences in prey availability.

KEY WORDS: Body condition index · Body mass · Environmental effects · Morphometrics · Otaria flavescens · Southern sea lion

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Cite this article as: Sepúlveda M, Olea D, Carrasco P, Santos-Carvallo M, Castillo J, Quiñones RA (2014) Latitudinal variation in local productivity influences body condition of South American sea lion pups. Aquat Biol 23:39-47.

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