An energy–distance trade-off in a central-place forager, the Antarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus gazella)
We tested the prediction that lactating fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella) at South Georgia will take prey of greater energy density with increasing distance of foraging from the colony. The study investigated the differences in diet of fur seals foraging within two regions, one near the breeding colony and the other at greater distance. Diet varied significantly in relation to foraging location. Dietary items of low quality were eaten in both regions but more food items with a high-energy content appeared in the diet of seals travelling to distant oceanic waters. We conclude that there is likely to be a trade-off between energy gain and distance travelled which enables female fur seals to maintain a relatively constant rate of energy delivery to their offspring irrespective of the distance travelled to find food.