The relationship between foraging behaviour and energy expenditure in Antarctic fur seals

By using time-depth recorders to measure diving activity and the doubly-labelled water method to determine energy expenditure, the relationship between foraging behaviour and energy expenditure was investigated in nine Antarctic fur seal females rearing pups. At-sea metabolic rate (MR) (mean of 6.34 ± 0.4 W. kg-1; 4.6 times predicted BMR) was positively correlated to foraging trip duration (mean of 4.21 ± 0.54 days; r2= 0.5, P < 0.04). There were no relationships between MR and the total number of dives, the total time spent diving or the total vertical distance travelled during the foraging trip. There was, however, a close negative sigmoidal relationship (r2= 0.93) between at-sea MR and the proportion of time at sea spent diving. This measure of diving behaviour may provide a useful, inexpensive means of estimating foraging energy expenditure in this species and possibly in other otariids. The rate of diving (m.h-1) was also negatively related to at-sea MR (r2= 0.69, P < 0.005). Body mass gain during a foraging trip had a positive relationship to the time spent at sea (r2= 0.58, P < 0.02) and the total amount of energy expended while at sea (r2= 0.72, P < 0.004) such that, while females undertaking long trips have higher metabolic rates, the energetic efficiency with which females gain mass is independent of the time spent at sea. Therefore, within the range of conditions observed, there is no apparent energetic advantage for females in undertaking foraging trips of any particular duration.


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Authors: Arnould, J. P. Y., Boyd, I. L., Speakman, J. R.

1 August, 1996
Journal of Zoology / 239
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