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Marine habitats of juvenile southern elephant seals from Marion Island

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Citation:
Tosh, C. A. , Steyn, J. , Bornemann, H. , van den Hoff, J. , Stewart, B. , Plötz, J. and Bester, M. N. (2012): Marine habitats of juvenile southern elephant seals from Marion Island , Aquatic Biology, 17 , pp. 71-79 . doi: 10.3354/ab00463
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Abstract:

Marine mammals forage in dynamic environments characterized by variables that are continuously changing in relation to large-scale oceanographic processes. In the present study, behavioural states of satellite-tagged juvenile southern elephant seals (n = 16) from Marion Island were assessed for each reliable location, using variation in turning angle and speed in a state–space modelling framework. A mixed modelling approach was used to analyse the behavioural response of juvenile southern elephant seals to sea-surface temperature and proximity to frontal and bathymetric features. The findings emphasised the importance of frontal features as potentially rewarding areas for foraging juvenile southern elephant seals and provided further evidence of the importance of the area west of Marion Island for higher trophic-level predators. The importance of bathymetric features during the transit phase of juvenile southern elephant seal migrations indicates the use of these features as possible navigational cues.

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