[MARMAM] New Paper: Elephant seal weaning mass, population density, and maternal age

Rachel Holser rholser at ucsc.edu
Mon Oct 18 09:36:28 PDT 2021

Dear Colleagues,

My coauthors and I are excited to share our new publication using 40 years
of data to examine the contributions of population density, maternal
effects, and ocean conditions to weaning mass in the northern elephant
seal.  This article is open access and can be found here:


   - Holser Rachel R.
   - Crocker Daniel E.
   - Robinson Patrick W.
   - Condit Richard
   <https://royalsocietypublishing.org/author/Condit%2C+Richard> and
   - Costa Daniel P.

2021Density-dependent effects on reproductive output in a capital breeding
carnivore, the northern elephant seal (*Mirounga angustirostris*) Proc. R.
Soc. B.288 20211258

All organisms face resource limitations that will ultimately restrict
population growth, but the controlling mechanisms vary across ecosystems,
taxa, and reproductive strategies. Using four decades of data, we examine
how variation in the environment and population density affect reproductive
outcomes in a capital-breeding carnivore, the northern elephant seal (*Mirounga
angustirostris*). This species provides a unique opportunity to examine the
relative importance of resource acquisition and density-dependence on
breeding success. Capital breeders accrue resources over large temporal and
spatial scales for use during an abbreviated reproductive period. This
strategy may have evolved, in part, to confer resilience to short-term
environmental variability. We observed density-dependent effects on weaning
mass, and maternal age (experience) was more important than oceanographic
conditions or maternal mass in determining offspring weaning mass. Together
these findings show that the mechanisms controlling reproductive output are
conserved across terrestrial and marine systems and vary with population
dynamics, an important consideration when assessing the effect of extrinsic
changes, such as climate change, on a population.

Feel free to contact me at rholser at ucsc.edu if you have any questions.

All the best,
Rachel Holser

Rachel Holser, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Researcher
Institute of Marine Sciences
University of California, Santa Cruz
115 McAllister Way
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
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