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Analysis of the condition of female (body fat and protein composition, weight and diet) Weddell seals (Leptonychotes weddellii) and the implication for reproductive success
Entry ID: K063_2002_2004_NZ_1


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Summary
Abstract: Weddell seals lay down substantial fat deposits during the non-breeding season and then expend the stored energy during an intensive lactation period. Fluctuations in energy acquisition prior to breeding are expressed as variations in maternal mass and condition at parturition. Failure to locate sufficient food prior to parturition will result in poor reproductive success. The link between variations in energy aquisition (affected by environmental conditions) and maternal condition on lactating behaviour, pup condition and survivorship was examined by monitoring the Weddell seal colony at Hutton Cliffs, Erebus Bay during the breeding season. Females and their pups were captured post partum, during mid-lactation and at the end of the lactation period and weighed. Deuterium and tritium dilution techniques as well as ultrasonic techniques were used to assess the condition (total amount of fat possessed) of females to determine the relative change in body composition (i.e. fat and protein) over time and the growth of the pup. The over winter diet of the females was determined by taking a blubber sample and analysing it for fatty acid composition, lipid use and transfer during lactation. Fresh scat samples were also collected from around the colony for the entire field season and prey remains were identified. Because identification is sometimes difficult, a DNA based method was used to identify species of prey remains. Blood and milk samples were also collected at the beginning, mid and end of lactation and examined to determine the ontogeny of disease resistance in pups.
Geographic Coverage
 N: -77.7333 S: -77.7333  E: 166.85  W: 166.85

Temporal Coverage
Start Date: 2002-10-14
Stop Date: 2002-12-12

Start Date: 2003-10-21
Stop Date: 2003-12-13


Location Keywords
CONTINENT > ANTARCTICA > HUTTON CLIFFS
GEOGRAPHIC REGION > POLAR


Science Keywords
BIOLOGICAL CLASSIFICATION >ANIMALS/VERTEBRATES >MAMMALS >CARNIVORES >SEALS/SEA LIONS/WALRUSES
BIOSPHERE >ECOLOGICAL DYNAMICS >SPECIES/POPULATION INTERACTIONS >EVOLUTIONARY ADAPTATION    [Definition]


ISO Topic Category
BIOTA


Platform
FIELD SURVEYS    [Information]
GROUND-BASED OBSERVATIONS    [Information]
FIELD INVESTIGATION    [Information]


Quality
Blood and milk samples still exist. Please contact the investigator directly for access to these samples. All other data is within the PhD thesis.


Keywords
BODY FAT
BREEDING SUCCESS


Data Set Progress
COMPLETE


Data Center
Antarctica New Zealand, New Zealand Antarctic Institute, New Zealand    [Information]
Data Center URL: http://www.antarcticanz.govt.nz/

Data Center Personnel
Name: SHULAMIT GORDON
Phone: +64 3 358 0200
Fax: +64 3 358 0211
Email: s.gordon at antarcticanz.govt.nz
Contact Address:
Antarctica New Zealand
Private Bag 4745
City: Christchurch
Country: New Zealand


Personnel
KATHERINE E WHEATLEY
Role: INVESTIGATOR
Phone: +61 3 6226 2592
Fax: +61 3 6226 2745
Email: kew at utas.edu.au
Contact Address:
Antarctic Wildlife Research Unit
School of Zoology
University of Tasmania
Private Bag 5
City: Hobart
Province or State: Tasmania
Postal Code: 7001
Country: Australia


LLOYD S DAVIS
Role: INVESTIGATOR
Phone: +64 3 479 7654
Fax: +64 3 479 7584
Email: adelie at stonebow.otago.ac.nz
Contact Address:
Zoology Department
Center for Science Communication
University of Otago
PO BOX 56
City: Dunedin
Country: New Zealand


CEISHA POIROT
Role: DIF AUTHOR
Phone: +64 3 358 0200
Fax: +64 3 358 0211
Email: c.poirot at antarcticanz.govt.nz
Contact Address:
Antarctica New Zealand
Private Bag 4745
City: Christchurch
Country: New Zealand


SHULAMIT GORDON
Role: DIF AUTHOR
Phone: +64 3 358 0200
Fax: +64 3 358 0211
Email: s.gordon at antarcticanz.govt.nz
Contact Address:
Antarctica New Zealand
Private Bag 4745
City: Christchurch
Country: New Zealand


Publications/References
Proffitt, K.M. Garrott, R.A. Rotella, J.J. Wheatley, K.E. Environmental and senescent related variations in Weddell seal body mass: implications for age-specific reproductive performance. Oikos 116: 1683-1690 doi: 10.1111/j.2007.0030-1299.16139.x, 2007.

Wheatley, K.E. Bradshaw, C.J.A. Harcourt, R.G. Davis, L.S. Hindell, M.A. Chemical immobilization of adult female Weddell seals with tiletamine and zolazepam: effects of age, condition and stage of lactation. BMC vetinary research 2(8): doi:10.1186/1746-6148/2/8, 2006.

Wheatley, K.E. Bradshaw, C.J.A. Davis, L.S. Harcourt, R.G. Hindell, M.A. Influence of maternal mass and condition on energy transfer in Weddell seals. Journal of Animal Ecology 75: 724-733doi:10.1111/j.1365-2656.2006.01093.x, 2006.

Wheatley, K.E. Nichols, P.D. Hindell, M.A. Harcourt, R.G. Bradshaw, C.J.A. Temporal variation in the vertical stratification of blubber fatty acids alters diet predictions for lactating Weddell seals. Journal of experimental marine biology and ecology 352: 103-113, 2007.

Wheatley, K.R. Reproductive Strategies of Adult Female Weddell Seals (Leptonychotes weddellii) and Their Implications for Pup Survival. Ph.D., University of Tasmania Hobart: University of Tasmania.

Wheatley, K.E. Bradshaw, C.J.A. Harcourt, R.G. Hindell, M.A. Feast or famine: evidence for mixed capital–income breeding strategies in Weddell seals. Oecologia 155: 11-20 DOI 10.1007/s00442-007-0888-7, 2008.

Creation and Review Dates
DIF Creation Date: 2008-10-13
Last DIF Revision Date: 2009-02-09


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