COMPARATIVE POPULATION DYNAMICS OF FUR SEALS

Authors

  • PATTI WICKENS,

    1. Marine Biology Research Institute, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, 7700, Cape Town, South Africa
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  • ANNE E. YORK

    1. National Marine Mammal Laboratory, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, 7600 Sand Point Way N.E., BIN C15700, Seattle, Washington 98115-0070, U.S.A.
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ABSTRACT

The population sizes, trends, exploitation, and life history parameters for the ten fur seal species and subspecies are summarized. The largest population is that of Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus with approximately two million seals, and the smallest is A. townsendi with approximately 7,000 individuals. Most populations are legally protected, although controlled harvesting may occur. None of the fur seal populations is currently known to be decreasing. Data are presented for parameters related to the survival of pups, juveniles, adults, and territorial males, and to reproduction, including the age of attainment of territorial status, aggregation sizes, age of first parturition, pregnancy rates, sex ratios of young animals, and information on the birth seasons of the different species. Since pinnipeds are often of concern in fisheries management, their daily consumption rates are of importance, and consequently data on body masses are summarized and the paucity of data on consumption rates as a function of body mass noted. A simplified age-structured model is developed, and the results of this model are compared with results from more detailed models based on two published life tables for Callorhinus ursinus. This comparison shows that the use of the simplified age-structured model is justified to explore changes in population growth rate. However, the simplified model does show exaggerated age structure effects compared to the more detailed models. This model is used to compare the population dynamics of those species for which sufficient data are available. Areas in which limited, or no, data are available for the different fur seal species are highlighted.

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