Juvenile southern elephant seals exhibit seasonal differences in energetic requirements and use of lipids and protein stores

Iain Field, Corey Bradshaw, H Burton, Mark Hindell

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Growing juvenile animals undergo many morphological, physiological, and behavioural changes that influence their energetic requirements, patterns of energy use, and ultimately, their survival and reproductive success. We examined changes in mass loss and body composition of juvenile southern elephant seals (1- and 2-yr-olds) during their two annual haul-outs. At the start and end of the midyear and molt haul-outs, we caught, weighed, and measured 41 and 14 seals, respectively. We measured blubber depth using ultrasound to estimate body composition (lean and adipose tissue mass). Using energy densities of the adipose and lean tissue, we calculated total, lean, and adipose mass changes and energy expenditure. While molting, juvenile seals used more energy than during the midyear, which is related to the increased use of lean tissue for hair and skin regeneration. The amount of energy used increases with mass as individuals mature. We found sexual differences in energy use where females retained greater fat reserves than males by utilizing more lean tissue. These differences are most likely related to haul-out function and behavior, growth, and earlier development of females toward sexual maturity. � 2005 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)491-504
    Number of pages14
    JournalPhysiological and Biochemical Zoology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


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