Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support

Foraging Ecology of Northern Elephant Seals

B. J. Le Boeuf, D. E. Crocker, D. P. Costa, S. B. Blackwell, P. M. Webb and D. S. Houser
Ecological Monographs
Vol. 70, No. 3 (Aug., 2000), pp. 353-382
Published by: Wiley
DOI: 10.2307/2657207
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2657207
Page Count: 30
  • Download ($42.00)
  • Cite this Item
If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support
Foraging Ecology of Northern Elephant Seals
Preview not available

Abstract

Sexual segregation in foraging is predicted from the great size disparity of male and female northern elephant seals, Mirounga angustirostris. Our aim was to test this prediction by measuring diving and foraging behavior, foraging locations, and distribution of the sexes during biannual migrations in the northeastern Pacific Ocean. Daily movements of 27 adult males and 20 adult females, during 56 migrations from Ano Nuevo, California, USA, were determined by Argos satellite telemetry via head-mounted platform transmitter terminals. Diving records were obtained with archival time-depth-speed recorders attached to the backs of seals that were recovered when the seals returned to the rookery. Pronounced sex differences were found in foraging location and foraging pattern, as reflected by horizontal transit speed and diving behavior. Males moved directly north or northwest at a mean speed of 90 ± 27 km/d to focal foraging areas along the continental margin ranging from coastal Oregon (534 km away) to the western Aleutian Islands (4775 km away). Males remained in these areas (mean size = 7892 km2) for 21-84% of their 4-mo stays at sea. The predominance of flat-bottom dives in these areas suggests concentrated feeding on benthic prey. Migration distance and estimated mass gain were positively correlated with male size, and individual males returned to the same area to forage on subsequent migrations. In contrast, females ranged across a wider area of the northeastern Pacific, from 38⚬ to 60⚬ N and from the coast to 172.5⚬ E. Focal foraging areas, indicated by a reduction in swim speed to <0.4 m/s, were distributed over deep water along the migratory path, with females remaining on them a mean of 3.5 d before moving to another one. Jagged-bottom dives that tracked the deep scattering layer prevailed in these areas, suggesting that females were feeding on pelagic prey in the water column. Females took roughly similar initial paths in subsequent migrations, but large deviations from the previous route were observed. We conclude that there is habitat segregation between the sexes. Females range widely over deep water, apparently foraging on patchily distributed, vertically migrating, pelagic prey, whereas males forage along the continental margin at the distal end of their migration in a manner consistent with feeding on benthic prey.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
353
    353
  • Thumbnail: Page 
354
    354
  • Thumbnail: Page 
355
    355
  • Thumbnail: Page 
356
    356
  • Thumbnail: Page 
357
    357
  • Thumbnail: Page 
358
    358
  • Thumbnail: Page 
359
    359
  • Thumbnail: Page 
360
    360
  • Thumbnail: Page 
361
    361
  • Thumbnail: Page 
362
    362
  • Thumbnail: Page 
363
    363
  • Thumbnail: Page 
364
    364
  • Thumbnail: Page 
365
    365
  • Thumbnail: Page 
366
    366
  • Thumbnail: Page 
367
    367
  • Thumbnail: Page 
368
    368
  • Thumbnail: Page 
369
    369
  • Thumbnail: Page 
370
    370
  • Thumbnail: Page 
371
    371
  • Thumbnail: Page 
372
    372
  • Thumbnail: Page 
373
    373
  • Thumbnail: Page 
374
    374
  • Thumbnail: Page 
375
    375
  • Thumbnail: Page 
376
    376
  • Thumbnail: Page 
377
    377
  • Thumbnail: Page 
378
    378
  • Thumbnail: Page 
379
    379
  • Thumbnail: Page 
380
    380
  • Thumbnail: Page 
381
    381
  • Thumbnail: Page 
382
    382