Variability in sea ice cover and climate elicit sex specific responses in an Antarctic predator
Contrasting regional changes in Southern Ocean sea ice have occurred over the last 30 years with distinct regional effects on ecosystem structure and function. Quantifying how Antarctic predators respond to such changes provides the context for predicting how climate variability/change will affect these assemblages into the future. Over an 11-year time-series, we examine how inter-annual variability in sea ice concentration and advance affect the foraging behaviour of a top Antarctic predator, the southern elephant seal. Females foraged longer in pack ice in years with greatest sea ice concentration and earliest sea ice advance, while males foraged longer in polynyas in years of lowest sea ice concentration. There was a positive relationship between near-surface meridional wind anomalies and female foraging effort, but not for males. This study reveals the complexities of foraging responses to climate forcing by a poleward migratory predator through varying sea ice property and dynamic anomalies.
Authors: Labrousse, Sara, Sallee, Jean-Baptiste, Fraser, Alexander D., Massom, Rob A., Reid, Phillip, Hobbs, William, Guinet, Christophe, Harcourt, Robert, McMahon, Clive, Authier, Matthieu, Bailleul, Frédéric, Hindell, Mark A., Charrassin, Jean-Benoit