CIE Spotlight: Relationship between long-term environmental fluctuations and diving effort of female Australian fur seals

John A.
John A.

TitleRelationship between long-term environmental fluctuations and diving effort of female Australian fur seals.

Authors: Hoskins, Andrew J.; Arnould, John P. Y.

Source: MARINE ECOLOGY PROGRESS SERIES, 511 285-295, SEP 24 2014.

Brief summary of the paper: For predators foraging within spatially and temporally heterogeneous marine ecosystems, environmental fluctuations can alter prey availability.

Using the proportion of time spent diving and foraging trip duration as proxies of foraging effort, a multi-year dataset was used to assess the response of 58 female Australian fur seals Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus to interannual environmental fluctuations.

Multiple environmental indices (remotely sensed ocean colour data and numerical weather predictions) were assessed for their influence on inter-annual variations in the proportion of time spent diving and trip duration. Model averaging revealed strong evidence for relationships between 4 indices and the proportion of time spent diving.

There was a positive relationship with effort and 2 yr-lagged spring sea-surface temperature, current winter zonal wind and southern oscillation index, while a negative relationship was found with 2 yr-lagged spring zonal wind. Additionally, a positive relationship was found between foraging trip duration and 1 yr-lagged spring surface chlorophyll a.

These results suggest that environmental fluctuations may influence prey availability by affecting the survival and recruitment of prey at the larval and post-larval phases while also affecting current distribution of adult prey.