[MARMAM] New publication: Feeding strategies in seals

Sarah Kienle sarah.stachura at gmail.com
Tue Aug 28 09:53:44 PDT 2018

Dear MARMAM members,

My co-authors and I are excited to share our new manuscript "Comparative
feeding strategies and kinematics in phocid seals: suction without
specialized skull morphology" published in the Journal of Experimental

Kienle, S. S., Hermann-Sorensen, H., Costa, D. P., Reichmuth, C., & Mehta,
R. S. (2018). Comparative feeding strategies and kinematics in phocid
seals: suction without specialized skull morphology. *Journal of
Experimental Biology*, jeb-179424.


Feeding kinematic studies inform our understanding of behavioral diversity
and provide a framework for studying the flexibility and constraints of
different prey acquisition strategies. However, little is known about the
feeding behaviors used by many marine mammals. We characterized the feeding
behaviors and associated kinematics of captive bearded (Erignathus
barbatus), harbor (Phoca vitulina), ringed (Pusa hispida) and spotted
(Phoca largha) seals through controlled feeding trials. All species
primarily used a suction feeding strategy but were also observed using a
biting strategy, specifically pierce feeding. Suction feeding was distinct
from pierce feeding and was characterized by significantly faster feeding
times, smaller gapes and gape angles, smaller gular depressions and fewer
jaw motions. Most species showed higher variability in suction feeding
performance than in pierce feeding, indicating that suction feeding is a
behaviorally flexible strategy. Bearded seals were the only species for
which there was strong correspondence between skull and dental morphology
and feeding strategy, providing further support for their classification as
suction feeding specialists. Harbor, ringed and spotted seals have been
classified as pierce feeders based on skull and dental morphologies. Our
behavioral and kinematic analyses show that suction feeding is also an
important feeding strategy for these species, indicating that skull
morphology alone does not capture the true diversity of feeding behaviors
used by pinnipeds. The ability of all four species to use more than one
feeding strategy is likely advantageous for foraging in spatially and
temporally dynamic marine ecosystems that favor opportunistic predators.

I am happy to provide a pdf copy. Please email me directly at:
sarah.stachura at gmail.com.

Sarah Kienle

Ph.D. Candidate
University of California Santa Cruz
Long Marine Laboratory
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(512) 413-6431
sarah.stachura at gmail.com

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get
better.  It's not."   ~The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
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