[MARMAM] New publication: Habitat preferences of breeding grey seals

James Stewart j.e.stewart8 at gmail.com
Thu Mar 27 11:05:01 PDT 2014


Dear all,


We are pleased to announce the publication of our article on the habitat
preferences of breeding grey seals. The paper is available to Marine Mammal
Science subscribers at
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mms.12126/full, and PDF requests
may be directed to me at j.e.stewart8 at gmail.com

Title: Finescale ecological niche modeling provides evidence that lactating
gray seals (*Halichoerus grypus*) prefer access to fresh water in order to
drink.

Abstract: Many phocids are capital breeders, relying on stored reserves to
sustain energetic requirements while on land. Their large body size, high
energy expenditure during lactation, and the insulative effects of the
blubber layer can lead to thermal stress from overheating, especially in
warm and temperate climates. Thermal stress can influence fine-scale site
choice on breeding colonies, and behavioral thermoregulation has been
proposed as an explanation for the clear preferences shown by breeding
female gray seals for proximity to pools of water. However, anecdotal
observations suggest that pools of water may also be preferred for
drinking, though water intake is difficult to verify without real-time
physiological monitoring. Here, an alternative approach demonstrates that
gray seals also require access to water for drinking. Using Ecological
Niche Factor Analysis to examine fine-scale physical determinants of
pupping site choice at North Rona, Scotland, we found that lactating
mothers showed preference for lower salinity pools. This is most pronounced
early in the season, when ambient temperatures and presumably thermal
stress are greatest. Given that the cooling effect of fresh and salt water
should be equivalent, the most parsimonious explanation for this preference
for fresh water pools is that lactating females use these pools for
drinking.

Citation: Stewart, J. E., Pomeroy, P. P., Duck, C. D. and Twiss, S. D.
(2014), Finescale ecological niche modeling provides evidence that
lactating gray seals (*Halichoerus grypus*) prefer access to fresh water in
order to drink. Marine Mammal Science. doi: 10.1111/mms.12126


 Best wishes,

James Stewart
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