Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 320606
Title Human disturbance, nursing behaviour, and lactational pup growth in a declining southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina) population
Author(s) Engelhard, G.H.; Baarspul, A.N.J.; Broekman, M.; Creuwels, J.C.S.; Reijnders, P.J.H.
Source Canadian Journal of Zoology 80 (2002)11. - ISSN 0008-4301 - p. 1876 - 1886.
Department(s) ALTERRA Wageningen UR
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2002
Keyword(s) fauna - Macquarie - aquatische ecologie - zeeolifant - zeezoogdieren zuidpoolgebied - Grote Oceaan
Abstract We studied lactation behaviour in relation to pup growth in southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) at Macquarie Island, and compared harems in areas of high and low human presence to determine if there is an effect attributable to human activitiesincluding scientific research. Pup weaning mass, a known correlate of first-year survival, was positively influenced by suckle bout durations during early and middle lactation and by maternal aggression during late lactation; no other behavioural variables were associated with weaning mass. In the area of high human presence, we observed from a distance the behaviour of mother-pup pairs directly before, during, and after visits to harems by other researchers. Alertness was raised threefold in the presence of people but quickly returned to predisturbance levels after their departure; there were no significant short-term effects on other behavioural variables. In the areas of high and low human presence, we observed the undisturbed behaviour of the seals in the absence of other people. No significant differences in any behavioural variables examined were found, indicating no long-term changes in behaviour resulting from human presence. Human disturbance therefore appears not to have significantly contributed to the population decline observed at Macquarie Island, but the conclusion requires caution given the fairly low power of our analyses.
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