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ESR 45:181-194 (2021)  -  DOI:

Protected area use by two sympatric marine predators repopulating their historical range

Marcus Salton1,6,*, Matt Carr2,7, L. Max Tarjan3,8, Justin Clarke1, Roger Kirkwood4,9, David Slip1,5, Robert Harcourt1

1Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, North Ryde, New South Wales 2109, Australia
2Department of Primary Industries, Jervis Bay Marine Park, New South Wales 2540, Australia
3Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz, California 95064, USA
4Research Department, Phillip Island Nature Parks, Cowes, Victoria 3922, Australia
5Taronga Conservation Society Australia, Mosman, New South Wales 2088, Australia
6Present address: Australian Antarctic Division, Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment, Kingston, Tasmania 7050, Australia
7Present address: Biodiversity Conservation Trust, Coffs Harbour, New South Wales 2450, Australia
8Present address: San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory, 524 Valley Way, Milpitas, California 95035, USA
9Present address: SARDI Aquatic Sciences, West Beach, South Australia 5024, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: As large carnivores recover from over-exploitation, managers often lack evidence-based information on species habitat requirements and the efficacy of management practices, particularly where species repopulate areas from which they have long been extirpated. We investigated the movement and habitat use by 2 semi-aquatic carnivores (Australian fur seals Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus and New Zealand fur seals A. forsteri) at the northern end of their distributions in Australia, where after a long absence both are recolonising their historic range. We also assessed male fur seal habitat use overlap with terrestrial and marine protected areas (PAs). While at the margin of the range during winter and early spring, the males remained inshore close to terrestrial sites and where interactions with humans often occur. From early spring, the males from the range margin showed uniform movement toward colonies in the core of the species’ range prior to their breeding seasons. This contrasts with males tracked from the core of the species’ range that returned periodically to colonies during the year, and highlights the importance of range-wide monitoring of a species to inform conservation planning. Habitat use by some males included over 90% of a marine PA at the margin of the species’ range. Most terrestrial haul-outs used were within terrestrial PAs, while sites not protected were on the margin of the range. Despite wide-ranging habits, their dependence on coastal sites, where human access and activities can be regulated and more readily enforced, suggests that terrestrial and marine PAs will continue to play an important role in managing the recovery of these fur seals.

KEY WORDS: Fur seal · Arctocephalus · Habitat use · Distribution · Population recovery · Recolonisation · Human-wildlife interaction

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Cite this article as: Salton M, Carr M, Tarjan LM, Clarke J, Kirkwood R, Slip D, Harcourt R (2021) Protected area use by two sympatric marine predators repopulating their historical range. Endang Species Res 45:181-194.

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