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Keywords:

  • harbor seal;
  • Phoca vitulina;
  • home range;
  • geographic information systems (GIS);
  • digital terrain models;
  • habitat classification;
  • habitat selection

Abstract

We studied the summer home range and habitat selection of harbor seal pups tracked using VHF radio telemetry along the coast of central Norway in 1997 and 1998. Median fixed kernel home range of six pups tracked in 1998 was 10.4 km2 and the median core area was 1.2 km2. One particular deep basin (>100 m deep) was highly selected, and extensively used by four of the pups, probably for feeding. An area adjacent to the deep basin also was selected, probably for haul outs. One pup spent most of the time in inshore, kelp forest areas. Shallow areas without kelp forest and exposed land were used least frequently, possibly because they did not provide suitable areas for feeding and to haul out. The seals hauled out more during calm wind and low tide than during rough wind and high tide. Seals seemed to haul out on intertidal rocks associated with islands, and alternated between several haul-out sites. We found no pattern in haul-out activity associated with age, time of day, air/sea temperature, cloud cover, or rainfall. In 1997, seven pups were tracked manually. These data were associated with methodological limitations, and they were used only to illustrate that these seals stayed mainly within the shallow, inshore, kelp forest area, indicating a possible difference in habitat use between years.