Diet of South American fur seals at the Falkland Islands
South American fur seals (SAFS) (Arctophoca australis1) are one of the most widely distributed otariids breeding on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides of South America, from Uruguay to Peru (Campagna 2008). Breeding colonies are, however, patchily distributed and geographically isolated, separated by hundreds to thousands of kilometers (Túnez et al. 2008). Two SAFS subspecies are typically recognized, but their validity is debated (reviewed in Oliveira and Brownell, in press). Specifically, the mainland subspecies (A. australis gracilis) (Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay) is separated from SAFS breeding at the Falkland Islands (A. australis australis) on the basis of skull morphometry (King 1954, Rice 1998, Brunner 2004, Campagna 2008). In addition to these subspecies, recent studies reveal genetic and morphometric differences between the Peruvian (A. australis unnamed) and Uruguayan populations of SAFS (Túnez et al. 2007, Oliveira et al. 2008, Berta and Churchill 2012, Committee on Taxonomy 2012). Genetic and morphometric discontinuities characterize distinct populations of SAFS that may constitute biologically relevant conservation and management units (Túnez et al. 2007, Oliveira et al. 2008). A prerequisite for effective SAFS conservation is the ability to identify the appropriate focus of management effort. This requires information on potential threats to distinct populations and their current conservation status.
Authors: Baylis, Alastair M. M., Arnould, John P. Y., Staniland, Iain J.