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Keywords:

  • Steller sea lion;
  • Eumetopias jubatus;
  • population trends

Abstract

This paper attempts to project the trends of Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) populations in six subdivisions of the western Alaska population. The overall Western Alaska population has declined dramatically since the 1970s. Trends in half of the areas appear to have leveled-off and possibly to be on the increase. Bootstrapping has been used to provide confidence intervals on predictions for the 2004 counts. For the three areas in which we expect increases, the 95% confidence intervals on predictions were: Eastern Gulf (2,430–3,740), Central Gulf (3,260–3,660) and Central Aleutians (5,160–6,580). The Western Gulf counts have been somewhat erratic, with a gradual rate of decrease (about 2% per year) and wide confidence limits on a linear prediction (logarithmic scale) of 2,690–3,240. Trends in the Eastern Aleutians have been even more erratic, so that about all that can be inferred is that the population may be roughly stabilized. Only the Western Aleutians appear to be rapidly declining at about 10% per year, with a 95% confidence interval on a linear trend of 610–1,100. The predictions were made before the 2004 counts and are in reasonable accord with the 2004 counts. Age structure changes do not appeat to provide a viable explanation for the changing trends.