Stable isotopes document winter trophic ecology and maternal investment of adult female southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) breeding at the Kerguelen Islands

Abstract : Individual specialisation is widespread and can aVect a population's ecological and evolutionary dynamics. Whether intra-speciWc niche diVerences can inXuence reproductive investment was examined in a marine mammal, the southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina), whose females were known to forage in two diVerent areas during the austral winter. The study was conducted at Kerguelen Islands (49°21S, 70°18E), southern Indian Ocean, in late winter–early spring 2006. Pups were used as proxies of their mothers' biology and combined information on their weaning mass (a proxy of females' foraging success and short-term Wtness) together with their blood 13C value (a proxy of female foraging zone). First, the use of isotopic signature of pups was validated to study the female foraging ecology during their pre-breeding trip by demonstrating that 13C and 15N values of pups and their mothers were positively and linearly correlated. Then, blood samples were taken from a large number of newly-weaned pups, which were also weighed, to provide information at the population level. Estimated 13C values of female seals encompassed a large range of values (from ¡23.7 to ¡19.1‰) with an unimodal frequency distribution, suggesting no contrasted foraging areas within the population. No signiWcant relationship was found between pup weaning mass and their carbon signature, indicating no link between female foraging areas and maternal foraging success and investment. Finally, blood 13C and 15N values gave new insights into southern elephant seal ecology, suggesting that females mainly foraged north of the Polar Front where they preyed upon myctophid Wsh in late winter.
Complete list of metadatas

https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00320519
Contributor : Martine Lacalle <>
Submitted on : Thursday, September 11, 2008 - 10:25:11 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - 11:25:45 AM

Links full text

Identifiers

Collections

Citation

Simon Ducatez, Sébastien Dalloyau, Pierre Richard, Christophe Guinet, Yves Cherel. Stable isotopes document winter trophic ecology and maternal investment of adult female southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) breeding at the Kerguelen Islands. Marine Biology, Springer Verlag, 2008, 155, pp.413-420. ⟨10.1007/s00227-008-1039-3⟩. ⟨hal-00320519⟩

Share

Metrics

Record views

166