ANNUAL REPRODUCTIVE CYCLE OF THE FEMALE HAWAIIAN MONK SEAL (MONACHUS SCHAUINSLANDI)

Authors

  • Thea C. Johanos,

    1. Honolulu Laboratory, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, 2570 Dole Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822-2396
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  • Brenda L. Becker,

    1. Honolulu Laboratory, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, 2570 Dole Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822-2396
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  • Timothy J. Ragen

    1. Honolulu Laboratory, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, 2570 Dole Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822-2396
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Abstract

Abstract: The annual reproductive cycle is described for the adult female Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) from data collected at Laysan Island (1982–1991) and Lisianski Island (1982–1983) in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Pupping, lactation, weaning, and molting were directly observed, while mating was rarely observed and was, therefore, inferred from the occurrence of mounting injuries and from adult male and female association patterns. Pooled birth rates during the study period were 0.544 for all adult-sized females and 0.675 for females parous in earlier years. For parturient females, pupping peaked in late March and early April, weaning in May, mounting injuries in May and June, and molting in July. For non-parturient females, the median mounting injury and molting dates occurred 17 and 28 days earlier, respectively. Pupping date set the timing of subsequent events in the annual cycle, but the timing of those events was adjusted by loss of the pup or poor physical condition of the female. Individual pupping patterns varied widely. The mean interval for births in consecutive years was 381 days; females that pupped in consecutive years gave birth later each season. Conversely, females who skipped a year or more gave birth earlier their next pupping season.

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