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Keywords:

  • Steller sea lion;
  • Eumetopias jubatus;
  • condition indices;
  • body condition;
  • blubber;
  • body composition

Abstract

We evaluated various measurements of mass, morphology, and blubber thickness as indices of fatness for Steller sea lions by correlation with the percentage of total body mass comprised by the sculp (%SCULP). We concluded LMD-index was the best index evaluated because it had a relatively high r2 (0.58), had a linear relationship with %SCULP, and the intercept term was not different from O. We suggest the development of a LMD-index for otariids would likely reduce the unexplained variation in the index. We developed a multiple regression model (r2= 0.745, P < 0.001) for predicting %SCULP with LMD-index and functions of sex, age, and season as predictor variables. Steller sea lions < 5 yr of age had higher %SCULP values than those ≥ 5 yr. %SCULP declined with age for sea lions < 5 yr. Both younger and older males were fatter during the winter/spring period than during summer/ fall. Females of both age classes had similar %SCULP values throughout the year. Steller sea lions are relatively lean pinnipeds; estimates of blubber and total body lipids ranged from 5% to 17% of total body mass.