Age-specific vibrissae growth rates: a tool for determining the timing of ecologically important events in Steller sea lions

Marine Mammal Science
University of Alaska Fairbanks; Alaska Department of Fish and Game; Alaska SeaLife Center; North Pacific Wildlife Consulting
By: , and 

Links

Abstract

Steller sea lions (SSL; Eumetopias jubatus) grow their vibrissae continually, providing a multiyear record suitable for ecological and physiological studies based on stable isotopes. An accurate age-specific vibrissae growth rate is essential for registering a chronology along the length of the record, and for interpreting the timing of ecologically important events. We utilized four methods to estimate the growth rate of vibrissae in fetal, rookery pup, young-of-the-year (YOY), yearling, subadult, and adult SSL. The majority of vibrissae were collected from SSL live-captured in Alaska and Russia between 2000 and 2013 (n = 1,115), however, vibrissae were also collected from six adult SSL found dead on haul-outs and rookeries during field excursions to increase the sample size of this underrepresented age group. Growth rates of vibrissae were generally slower in adult (0.44 ± 0.15 cm/mo) and subadult (0.61 ± 0.10 cm/mo) SSL than in YOY (0.87 ± 0.28 cm/mo) and fetal (0.73 ± 0.05 cm/mo) animals, but there was high individual variability in these growth rates within each age group. Some variability in vibrissae growth rates was attributed to the somatic growth rate of YOY sea lions between capture events (P = 0.014, r2 = 0.206, n = 29).

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Age-specific vibrissae growth rates: a tool for determining the timing of ecologically important events in Steller sea lions
Series title Marine Mammal Science
DOI 10.1111/mms.12221
Volume 31
Issue 3
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Society for Marine Mammalogy
Publisher location Lawrence, KS
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 21 p.
First page 1213
Last page 1233
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N