[MARMAM] New Paper on Gray Seal Behaviour in England

Amy Bishop amy.bishop00 at gmail.com
Thu Aug 29 02:42:38 PDT 2013

Dear subscribers,

We are pleased to announce the following publication on the use of a newly
described Body Slapping behaviour performed by male gray seals in England.

To the best of our knowledge the behaviour investigated in the article has
only been seen performed along the eastern coast of England, but we would
love to hear if anyone has observed this behaviour elsewhere in the gray
seal range.

Bishop, A. M., Lidstone-Scott, R., Pomeroy, P. and Twiss, S. D. (2013),
Body slap: An innovative aggressive display by breeding male gray
seals (*Halichoerus
grypus*). Marine Mammal Science. doi: 10.1111/mms.12059

Aggression in male gray seals has been extensively studied; however it is
often simplistically assumed that threat signals are mainly cephalic in
nature for this species. We report on an undescribed and apparently new
kind of threat signal used by male gray seals we term a Body Slap. The
behavior has been observed at breeding sites in eastern England since 1993
but has not been studied ethologically or reported elsewhere. The aims of
this study were to describe the behavior, test the influence of topographic
variation on its frequency of occurrence, examine if it is used to signal
dominance or submission, and to place it in intra- and interspecific
contexts. Our results show Body Slaps were performed in 66.3% of
interactions and by 57.2% of males; it was not performed by females. The
Body Slap was positively associated with the Approach and Open-Mouth Threat
behaviors but was not related to dominance; nevertheless, display rates
were greater for subsequent winners. These findings suggest that the Body
Slap carries information about male resource holding potential and does not
signal submission. This study furthers our understanding of geographic
variants of male threat behaviors and of pinniped nonvocal communication.

The article and supplemental video can be downloaded/viewed directly on the
Marine Mammal Science website:


Or you may contact me for a pdf at a.m.bishop at durham.ac.uk

Kind regards,
Amy Bishop


PhD Student
Durham University
School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
+44 (0) 1913341247

website: sealbehaviour.wordpress.com
email: a.m.bishop at dur.ac.uk
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