The Demographic Consequences of Environmental Variability and Individual Heterogeneity in Life-history Tactics of a Long-lived Antarctic Marine Predator
The Erebus Bay population of Weddell seals in Antarctica?s Ross Sea is the most southerly breeding population of mammal in the world, closely associated with persistent shore-fast ice, and one that has been intensively studied since 1968. The resulting long-term database, which includes data for 20,586 marked individuals, contains detailed population information that provides an excellent opportunity to study linkages between environmental conditions and demographic processes in the Antarctic. The population?s location is of special interest as the Ross Sea is one of the most productive areas of the Southern Ocean, one of the few pristine marine environments remaining on the planet, and, in contrast to the Antarctic Peninsula and Arctic, is undergoing a gradual lengthening of the sea-ice season.
The work to be continued here capitalizes on (1) long-term data for individual seals and their polar environment; (2) experience collecting and analyzing data from the extensive study population; and (3) recent statistical advances in hierarchical modeling that allow for rigorous treatment of individual heterogeneity (in mark-recapture and body mass data) and inclusion of diverse covariates hypothesized to explain variation in fitness components. Covariates to be considered include traits of individuals and their mothers and environmental conditions throughout life.
The study will continue to (1) provide detailed data on known-age individuals to other science projects and (2) educate and mentor the next generation of ecologists through academic and professional training and research experiences.
AMD - DIF Record(s)
Data Management Plan
None in the Database