Charles Darwin

Biblioteca G. T. Corley Smith
G. T. Corley Smith Library
Villegas-Amtmann, Stella.

Latitudinal range influences the seasonal variation in the foraging behavior of marine top predators.

Non-migratory resident species should be capable of modifying their foraging behavior to accommodate changes in prey abundance and availability associated with a changing environment. Populations that are better adapted to change will have higher foraging success and greater potential for survival in the face of climate change. We studied two species of resident central place foragers from temperate and equatorial regions with differing population trends and prey availability associated to season, the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) (CSL) whose population is increasing and the endangered Galapagos sea lion (Zalophus wollebaeki) (GSL) whose population is declining. To determine their response to environmental change, we studied and compared their diving behavior using time-depth recorders and satellite location tags and their diet by measuring C and N isotope ratios during a warm and a cold season. Based on latitudinal differences in oceanographic productivity, we hypothesized that the seasonal variation in foraging behavior would differ for these two species. CSL exhibited greater seasonal variability in their foraging behavior as seen in changes to their diving behavior, foraging areas and diet between seasons. Conversely, GSL did not change their diving behavior between seasons, presenting three foraging strategies (shallow, deep and bottom divers) during both. GSL exhibited greater dive and foraging effort than CSL. We suggest that during the warm and less productive season a greater range of foraging behaviors in CSL was associated with greater competition for prey, which relaxed during the cold season when resource availability was greater. GSL foraging specialization suggests that resources are limited throughout the year due to lower primary production and lower seasonal variation in productivity compared to CSL. These latitudinal differences influence their foraging success, pup survival and population growth reflected in contrasting population trends in which CSL are more successful and potentially more resilient to climate change.


California sea lion. León marino de California. Zalophus californianus. Galapagos sea lion. León marino de las Islas Galápagos. Zalophus wollebaeki.


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