[MARMAM] New paper on sex-specific diving behaviour in Weddell Sea Weddell seals

Theoni Photopoulou theoni.photopoulou at gmail.com
Mon Nov 16 03:34:23 PST 2020

Dear MARMAM colleagues,

We are pleased to announce the publication of the following paper online:

Theoni Photopoulou, Karine Heerah, Jennifer Pohle and Lars Boehme. 2020.
Sex-specific variation in the use of vertical habitat by a resident
Antarctic top predator.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 287(1937): 20201447

Abstract: Patterns of habitat use are commonly studied in horizontal space,
but this does not capture the four-dimensional nature of ocean habitats
(space, depth, and time). Deep-diving marine animals encounter varying
oceanographic conditions, particularly at the poles, where there is strong
seasonal variation in vertical ocean structuring. This dimension of space
use is hidden if we only consider horizontal movement. To identify
different diving behaviours and usage patterns of vertically distributed
habitat, we use hidden Markov models fitted to telemetry data from an
air-breathing top predator, the Weddell seal, in the Weddell Sea,
Antarctica. We present evidence of overlapping use of high-density,
continental shelf water masses by both sexes, as well as important
differences in their preferences for oceanographic conditions. Males spend
more time in the unique high-salinity shelf water masses found at depth,
while females also venture off the continental shelf and visit warmer,
shallower water masses. Both sexes exhibit a diurnal pattern in diving
behaviour (deep in the day, shallow at night) that persists from austral
autumn into winter. The differences in habitat use in this resident,
sexually monomorphic Antarctic top predator suggest a different set of
needs and constraints operating at the intraspecific level, not driven by
body size.

The paper is freely available here:

Please feel free to get in touch with any questions about our work.

All the best,

Theoni Photopoulou, Research Fellow
Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling
School of Mathematics and Statistics
University of St Andrews
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