Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 62, Issue 2, pp 159–171

The cost of success: reproductive effort in male southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina)

  • Filippo Galimberti
  • Simona Sanvito
  • Chiara Braschi
  • Luigi Boitani
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00265-007-0450-y

Cite this article as:
Galimberti, F., Sanvito, S., Braschi, C. et al. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2007) 62: 159. doi:10.1007/s00265-007-0450-y

Abstract

Reproductive effort is a key parameter of life history because it measures the resources allocated to reproduction at the expense of growth and maintenance. Male reproductive effort always had a minor role with respect to female effort both in the development of theories and in field research. Elephant seals are an ideal subject for reproductive effort studies because they fast during the breeding season, splitting the phase of energy acquisition from the phase of energy use for breeding. In this paper, we present results on male reproductive effort (weight loss estimated by photogrammetry) in southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina), the most dimorphic and polygynous of all mammal species. We show that total reproductive effort increases with age, with no sign of late decrease or senescence. Male reproductive effort in this species depends mostly on behavioral factors, i.e., the success in competition with other males, and the intensity of interaction with females. A large effort results in large gains in both mating success and fertilizations. The large reproductive success that a few males are able to achieve come at a big cost in terms of energy expenditure, but this cost does not seem to affect the likelihood of survival to the following breeding season.

Keywords

Reproductive effort Body size Male competition Reproductive success Southern elephant seal Mirounga leonina Falkland Islands 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Filippo Galimberti
    • 1
    • 4
  • Simona Sanvito
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chiara Braschi
    • 3
  • Luigi Boitani
    • 3
  1. 1.Elephant Seal Research GroupSea Lion IslandFalklands Islands
  2. 2.Department of BiologyMemorial University of NewfoundlandSt. John’sCanada
  3. 3.Department of Animal BiologyUniversity of Rome “La Sapienza”RomeItaly
  4. 4.Laboratorio de Ecología Molecular, Facultad de Ciencias MarinasUniversidad Autónoma de Baja CaliforniaEnsenadaMexico

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