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Differential resource allocation strategies in juvenile elephant seals in the highly seasonal Southern Ocean

Field, Iain C., Bradshaw, Corey J. A., Burton, Harry R. and Hindell, Mark A. (2007). Differential resource allocation strategies in juvenile elephant seals in the highly seasonal Southern Ocean. Marine Ecology Progress Series,331:281-290.

Document type: Journal Article
Citation counts: Scopus Citation Count Cited 16 times in Scopus Article | Citations

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IRMA ID 78671349xPUB17
Title Differential resource allocation strategies in juvenile elephant seals in the highly seasonal Southern Ocean
Author Field, Iain C.
Bradshaw, Corey J. A.
Burton, Harry R.
Hindell, Mark A.
Journal Name Marine Ecology Progress Series
Publication Date 2007
Volume Number 331
ISSN 0171-8630   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-33947139150
Start Page 281
End Page 290
Total Pages 10
Place of Publication Oldendorf, Germany
Publisher Inter-Research
Field of Research 0602 - Ecology
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DEST)
Abstract Environmental conditions experienced in early life affect growth and influence life history strategies, especially in seasonal environments. We studied the seasonal and sexual variation in resource allocation in juvenile southern elephant seals to investigate whether they show a seasonal decline in growth. We also examined whether sexual differences in growth may lead to separate growth strategies that suit each sex in maximizing fitness. We examined the variation in length (as a measure of somatic growth), body mass and condition of 470 individual 1- to 4-yr-old elephant seals relative to their different growth strategies. Applying a novel growth function, we observed increased somatic growth in summer compared to winter, Males were larger, had higher proportions of lean tissue and grew faster than females, demonstrating the evolution of a male growth strategy of attaining maximum size quickly, and a female strategy of achieving primiparity at an early age. This evidence supports the idea that seasonal patterns reflect seasonal variation in prey availability and quality, and differential growth strategies promote optimal resource allocation and increase an individual's probability of survival and future breeding success in the highly dynamic and seasonal Southern Ocean.
Keywords southern elephant seals
resource allocation
sexual dimorphism
seasonal environment
mirounga leonin
life history
energetic requirements
blubber thickness
macquarie island
body mass
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