Forced into an ecological corner : round-the-clock deep foraging on small prey by elephant seals
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Small mesopelagic fishes dominate the world’s total fish biomass, yet their ecological importance as prey for large marine animals is poorly understood. To reveal the little-known ecosystem dynamics, we identified prey, measured feeding events, and quantified the daily energy balance of 48 deep-diving elephant seals throughout their oceanic migrations by leveraging innovative technologies: animal-borne smart accelerometers and video cameras. Seals only attained positive energy balance after feeding 1000 to 2000 times per day on small fishes, which required continuous deep diving (80 to 100% of each day). Interspecies allometry suggests that female elephant seals have exceptional diving abilities relative to their body size, enabling them to exploit a unique foraging niche on small but abundant mesopelagic fish. This unique foraging niche requires extreme round-the-clock deep diving, limiting the behavioral plasticity of elephant seals to a changing mesopelagic ecosystem.
Adachi , T , Takahashi , A , Costa , D P , Robinson , P W , Hückstädt , L A , Peterson , S H , Holser , R R , Beltran , R S , Keates , T R & Naito , Y 2021 , ' Forced into an ecological corner : round-the-clock deep foraging on small prey by elephant seals ' , Science Advances , vol. 7 , no. 20 , eabg3628 . https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abg3628
Copyright © 2021 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial License 4.0 (CC BY-NC). https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.
DescriptionThis study was supported by grants from Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (23255001, 15K14793, and 20H00650), Grant-in-Aid for JSPS Fellows (12J04316 and 16J02935), Grant-in-Aid for Research Activity Start-up (15H06824), the Office of Naval Research grants N00014-10-1-0356 and N00014-13-1-0134, and the E&P Sound and Marine Life Joint Industry Project of the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers.
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