Walrus haul-out and in water activity levels relative to sea ice availability in the Chukchi Sea

Journal of Mammalogy
By: , and 

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Abstract

An animal’s energetic costs are dependent on the amount of time it allocates to various behavioral activities. For Arctic pinnipeds, the time allocated to active and resting behaviors could change with future reductions in sea ice cover and longer periods of open water. The Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) is a large Arctic pinniped that rests on sea ice or land between foraging trips to feed on the seafloor. We used behavioral data collected from radiotagged walruses in the Chukchi Sea (2008–2014) in a Bayesian generalized linear mixed effects model to estimate the probability a walrus was in water foraging, in water not foraging, or hauled out, as a function of environmental covariates. The probability of a walrus being in water increased with wind speed and decreased with air temperature, and the probability a walrus was foraging, given it was in water, increased with available benthic macrofaunal biomass. The probability of each behavior was also related to the nature and availability of haul-out substrates. The amount of time walruses spent in water foraging and hauled out was greatest when only sea ice was available, which typically occurs when walruses occupy feeding areas during summer and early autumn. This situation may be most energy efficient for walruses because it allows the highest proportion of in water energy expenditure to be allocated to foraging. Conversely, the amount of time walruses spent in water foraging and hauled out was lowest when only land was available, which typically occurs in late autumn, in years when walruses were constrained to land haul-outs because sea ice was absent over the continental shelf.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Walrus haul-out and in water activity levels relative to sea ice availability in the Chukchi Sea
Series title Journal of Mammalogy
DOI 10.1093/jmammal/gyw195
Volume 98
Issue 2
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Oxford
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center Biology MFEB
Description 11 p.
First page 386
Last page 396
Country United States
Other Geospatial Chukchi Sea