Neonatal growth of Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) pups in Alaska Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The growth rate of Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) pups was studied in southeast Alaska, the Gulf of Alaska, and the Aleutian Islands during the first six weeks after birth. The Steller sea lion population is currently stable in southeast Alaska but is declining in the Aleutian Islands and parts of the Gulf of Alaska. Male pups (22.6 kg [±2.21 SD]) were significantly heavier than female pups (19.6 kg [±1.80 SD]) at 1-5 days of age, but there were no significant differences among rookeries. Male and female pups grew (in mass, standard length, and axillary girth) at the same rate. Body mass and standard length increased at a faster rate for pups in the Aleutian Islands and the western Gulf of Alaska (0.45-0.48 kg/day and 0.47-0.53 cm/day, respectively) than in southeast Alaska (0.23 kg/day and 0.20 cm/day). Additionally, axillary girth increased at a faster rate for pups in the Aleutian Islands (0.59 cm/ day) than for pups in southeast Alaska v(0.25 cm/day). Our results indicate a greater maternal investment in male pups during gestation, but not during early lactation. Although differences in pup growth rate occurred among rookeries, there was no evidence that female sea lions and their pups were nutritionally stressed in the area of population decline.

author list (cited authors)

  • Brandon, E., Calkins, D. G., Loughlin, T. R., & Davis, R. W.

publication date

  • April 2005