[MARMAM] New publication: Onset and duration of gray seal (Halichoerus grypus) molt in the Wadden Sea, and the role of environmental conditions

Schop, Jessica jessica.schop at wur.nl
Fri Apr 28 06:23:26 PDT 2017

Dear all,

We are pleased to announce our recent paper on gray seal molt in the Dutch Wadden Sea:

Jessica Schop, Geert Aarts, Roger Kirkwood, Jenny S. M. Cremer, Sophie M. J. M. Brasseur (2017). Onset and duration of gray seal (Halichoerus grypus) molt in the Wadden Sea, and the role of  environmental conditions. Marine Mammal Science.  DOI: 10.1111/mms.12404

The paper is open access and available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mms.12404/full

Surveys of gray seals (Halichoerus grypus) during the molt period, when they are abundant on land, can be used to monitor changes in population size, but accurate interpretation of results requires an understanding of the molt process and how it may vary between years. This study investigates variability in onset (start date) and duration of visible molt by gray seals in the Wadden Sea, and the influence of environmental conditions on the onset. Molt was monitored in nine captive seals and observed molt phases were applied to wild seals over seven annual molt periods between 2004 and 2010, monitored using aerial photography. The onset of visible molt varied significantly between years, for example it differed 28 d between 2008 and 2009. Model selection by AIC retained one environmental variable that correlated with molt onset; however, its effect was inconsistent within the molt season and did not explain some of the apparent observed annual variation. Hence, the main causes of interannual variability in the onset of molt remain unclear and warrant further study. Researchers should account for annual variability in the onset of molt when interpreting survey results based on molt counts.

Kind regards,
Jessica Schop on behalf of the co-authors
Wageningen University and Research - Wageningen Marine Research,
Ankerpark 27, 1781 AG Den Helder,
The Netherlands
jessica.schop at wur.nl

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