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Individual foraging site fidelity in lactating New Zealand fur seals: Continental shelf vs. oceanic habitats

Authors

  • Alastair M. M. Baylis,

    1. South Australian Research and Development Institute, (Aquatic Sciences),
      PO Box 120,
      Henley Beach,
      Adelaide, South Australia 5022, Australia
      and
      School of Earth and Environmental Sciences,
      University of Adelaide,
      Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia
      and
      Falklands Conservation,
      PO Box 41,
      Stanley, FIQQ1ZZ, Falkland Islands
      E-mail: al_baylis@yahoo.com.au
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  • Brad Page,

    1. South Australian Research and Development Institute, (Aquatic Sciences),
      PO Box 120,
      Henley Beach,
      Adelaide, South Australia 5022, Australia
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  • Jane McKenzie,

    1. South Australian Research and Development Institute, (Aquatic Sciences),
      PO Box 120,
      Henley Beach,
      Adelaide, South Australia 5022, Australia
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  • Simon D. Goldsworthy

    1. South Australian Research and Development Institute, (Aquatic Sciences),
      PO Box 120,
      Henley Beach,
      Adelaide, South Australia 5022, Australia
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Abstract

Wide-ranging marine central place foragers often exhibit foraging site fidelity to oceanographic features over differing spatial scales (i.e., localized coastal upwellings and oceanic fronts). Few studies have tested how the degree of site fidelity to foraging areas varies in relation to the type of ocean features used. In order to determine how foraging site fidelity varied between continental shelf and oceanic foraging habitats, 31 lactating New Zealand fur seals (Arctocephalus australis forsteri1) were satellite tracked over consecutive foraging trips (14–108 d). Thirty-seven foraging trips were recorded from 11 females that foraged on the continental shelf, in a region associated with a coastal upwelling, while 65 foraging trips were recorded from 20 females that foraged in oceanic waters. There were no significant differences in the mean bearings (to maximum distance) of individual's consecutive foraging trips, suggesting individual fidelity to foraging areas. However, overlap in area and time spent in area varied considerably between continental shelf and oceanic foragers. Females that foraged on the continental shelf had significantly greater overlap in consecutive foraging trips when compared to females that foraged in oceanic waters (overlap in 5 × 5 km grid cells visited on consecutive trips 55.9%± 20.4% and 13.4%± 7.6%, respectively). Females that foraged on the continental shelf also spent significantly more time within the same grid cell than females that foraged in oceanic waters (maximum time spent in 5 × 5 km grid cells: 14%± 5% and 4%± 2%, respectively). This comparatively high foraging site fidelity may reflect the concentration of productivity associated with a coastal upwelling system, the Bonney Upwelling. Lower foraging site fidelity recorded by seals that foraged in oceanic waters implies a lower density/larger scale habitat, where prey are more dispersed or less predictable at fine scales, when compared to the continental shelf region.

Ancillary