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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 372:277-287 (2008)  -  DOI:

Temporal structure of diving behaviour in sympatric Antarctic and subantarctic fur seals

Sebastián P. Luque1,2,*, John P. Y. Arnould3, Christophe Guinet2

1Department of Biology, Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador A1B 3X9, Canada
2Centre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé, CNRS, 79 360 Villiers en Bois, France
3School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, Victoria 3125, Australia

ABSTRACT: Lactation is considerably briefer (4 vs. 10 mo) and daily pup energy expenditure higher in Antarctic (AFS) than in subantarctic fur seals (SFS), even in sympatric populations of both species, where their foraging locations and diets are similar. Therefore, lactational demands may be higher for AFS females. We investigated whether sympatric lactating AFS and SFS females differ in their physiological or behavioural diving capacities, and in the temporal structure of foraging behaviour. Mean dive depth and duration were greater in SFS, but dives below 140 m were performed only by AFS. An index of activity level during the bottom phase of dives, when fur seals are thought to capture prey, was higher in SFS. Despite these differences, SFS females showed a steady increase in the minimum postdive interval following dives lasting longer than 250 s, compared to the steady increase following dives lasting longer than only 150 s in AFS. These results suggest that physiological constraints on diving behaviour are stronger on AFS females, and that the behavioural aerobic dive limit is greater for SFS. Assuming that dive bouts reflect foraging in prey patches, AFS females exploited more patches per unit time, and remained in them for briefer periods of time, compared to SFS females. Dive bout structure did not differ between overnight and long foraging trips. Our data suggest that AFS females spend greater foraging effort, but may gain access to prey patches of better quality, which may help them cope with higher lactational demands.

KEY WORDS: Optimal foraging · Foraging niche segregation · Foraging behaviour · Diel trends · Diurnal activity · Myctophidae · Syntopy · Archival tags

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Cite this article as: Luque SP, Arnould JPY, Guinet C (2008) Temporal structure of diving behaviour in sympatric Antarctic and subantarctic fur seals. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 372:277-287.

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