Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 67, Issue 6, pp 1001–1011 | Cite as

Site fidelity of male Galápagos sea lions: a lifetime perspective

  • Kristine MeiseEmail author
  • Oliver Krüger
  • Paolo Piedrahita
  • Fritz Trillmich
Original Paper


Knowledge about the distribution of resources can lead to the development of spatial preferences and long-term site fidelity. Individuals are expected to choose sites that best suit their needs. However, dominant individuals restrict movements of less competitive ones. Accordingly, one may expect spatial preferences to differ with regard to individual characteristics and to change over time. We investigated lifetime changes of site fidelity patterns with regard to reproductive success in male Galápagos sea lions (Zalophus wollebaeki). Showing a high degree of natal philopatry in the first 2 years of life, non-territorial males pass through a stage of fidelity to their natal colony where they develop preferences for areas outside prime breeding areas. Variation in the degree of spatial preferences was not associated with age or size, characteristics linked to an individual’s dominance status. For non-territorial males, roaming proved to be an adequate strategy to gain reproductive success. Only the most competitive males established territories in areas preferentially visited by females. They had a high probability to return to breeding areas where they successfully reproduced in previous seasons. Overall, the results reveal lifetime changes in site fidelity with regard to male status. The degree of site fidelity observed within the colony suggests familiarity and thus a high degree of tolerance among individuals using the same areas. This seems to facilitate attendance in the colony and thus the possibility to prospect for oestrus females.


Philopatry Life history Intra-sexual competition Reproductive strategy Age-related dominance 



This study was funded by the VW-Stiftung, Friends of the Galapagos Switzerland, German Research Foundation (TR 105/18, TR 105/18-2), German Academic Exchange Service and the Ethological Society. We are grateful for the permission and close collaboration of the Galápagos National Park Service as well as the logistical support of the Charles Darwin Research Station. We thank J.B.W. Wolf, B. Müller, and U. Pörschmann who ran the project in previous years. E. Hippauf and P. Viehoever helped with DNA analysis. This study could not have been done without the enduring field assistance of many helpers.

Ethical standards

The study presented here complies with the laws of Ecuador and was licensed by the Galápagos National Park Service.


  1. Alcock J (1993) Differences in site fidelity among territorial males of the carpenter bee Xylocopa varipuncta (Hymenoptera: Anthophoridae). Behaviour 125:199–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andersson M (1994) Sexual selection. University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  3. Anderson DR, Burnham KP, White GC (1998) Comparison of AIC and CAIC for model selection and statistical inference from capture–recapture studies. J Appl Stat 25:263–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Asher M, Lippmann T, Epplen JT, Kraus C, Trillmich F, Sachser N (2008) Large males dominate: ecology, social organization, and mating system of wild cavies, the ancestors of the guinea pig. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 62:1509–1521CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baker JD, Antonelis GA, Fowler CW, York AE (1995) Natal site fidelity in northern fur seals, Callorhinus ursinus. Anim Behav 50:237–247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bee MA (2003) A test of the 'dear enemy effect' in the strawberry dart-poison frog (Dendrobates pumilio). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 54:601–610CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Beletsky LD, Orians GH (1989) Familiar neighbors enhance breeding success in birds. P Natl Acad Sci USA 86:7933–7936CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Beletsky LD, Orians GH (1991) Effects of breeding experience and familiarity on site fidelity in female red-winged blackbirds. Ecology 72:787–796CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bensch S, Hasselquist D, Nielsen B, Hansson B (1998) Higher fitness for philopatric than for immigrant males in a semi-isolated population of great reed warblers. Evolution 52:877–883CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bollinger EK, Gavin TA (1989) The effects of site quality on breeding-site fidelity in bobolinks. Auk 106:584–594Google Scholar
  11. Cameron MF, Siniff DB, Proffitt KM, Garrott RA (2007) Site fidelity of Weddell seals: the effects of sex and age. Antarct Sci 19:149–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Campagna C, LeBoeuf BJ, Cappozzo HL (1988) Group raids: a mating strategy of male southern sea lions. Behaviour 105:224–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chilvers BL, Wilkinson IS (2008) Philopatry and site fidelity of New Zealand sea lions (Phocarctos hookeri). Wildlife Res 35:463–470CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Clarke AL, Saether BE, Roskaft E (1997) Sex biases in avian dispersal: a reappraisal. Oikos 79:429–438CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Clutton-Brock TH, Guinness FE, Albon SD (1982) Red deer: the behavior and ecology of two sexes. University Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  16. Clutton-Brock TH, Green D, Hiraiwa-Hasegawa M, Albon SD (1988) Passing the buck: resource defence, lek breeding and mate choice in fallow deer. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 23:281–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Clutton-Brock TH (1989) Mammalian mating systems. Proc Roy Soc Lond B 236:339–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Connor RC, Smolker RA, Richards AF (1992) Two levels of alliance formation among male bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp.). P Natl Acad Sci 89:987–990CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Cristol DA (1995) Costs of switching social groups for dominant and subordinate dark-eyed juncos. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 37:93–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dahle B, Swenson JE (2003) Home ranges in adult Scandinavian brown bears Ursus arctos: effect of population density, mass, sex, reproductive status and habitat type. J Zool 260:329–335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Davies NB (1978) Territorial defence in the speckled wood butterfly (Pararge aegeria): the resident always wins. Anim Behav 26:138–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Dobson FS (1982) Competition for mates and predominant juvenile male dispersal in mammals. Anim Behav 30:1183–1192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dubois F, Cezilly F (2002) Breeding success and mate-retention in birds: a meta-analysis. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 52:357–364CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. DuVal EH (2007) Social organisation and variation in cooperative alliances among male lance-tailed manakins. Anim Behav 73:391–401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Eason P, Hannon SJ (1994) New birds on the block-new neighbors increase defensive costs for territorial male willow ptarmigan. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 34:419–426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Enquist M, Leimar O (1987) Evolution of fighting behavior—the effect of variation in resource value. J Theor Biol 127:187–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Fisher JB (1954) Evolution and bird sociality. In: Huxley J, Hardy AC, Ford EB (eds) Evolution as a process. Allen and Unwin, London, pp 71–83Google Scholar
  28. Getty T (1987) Dear enemies and the prisoner’s dilemma: why should territorial neighbours form defensive coalitions? Am Zool 27:327–336Google Scholar
  29. Getty T (1989) Are dear enemies in a war of attrition? Anim Behav 37:337–338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Greenwood PJ (1980) Mating systems, philopatry and dispersal in birds and mammals. Anim Behav 28:1140–1162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Greenwood PJ, Harvey PH (1982) The natal and breeding dispersal of birds. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 13:1–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Haley MP (1994) Resource-holding power asymmetries, the prior residence effect and reproductive payoffs in male northern elephant seal fights. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 34:427–434CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Härkönen T, Harding KC (2001) Spatial structure of harbour seal populations and the implications thereof. Can J Zool 79:2115–2127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Heath CB (1989) The behavioral ecology of the California sea lion, Zalophus californinaus. PhD thesis, University of California, Santa CruzGoogle Scholar
  35. Hellickson MW, Campbell TA, Miller KV, Marchinton RL, DeYoung CA (2008) Seasonal ranges and site fidelity of adult male white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in southern Texas. Southwest Nat 53:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hoffman JI, Boyd IL, Amos W (2003) Male reproductive strategy and the importance of maternal status in the Antarctic fur seal Arctocephalus gazella. Evolution 57:1917–1930PubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Hoffman JI, Trathan PN, Amos W (2006) Genetic tagging reveals extreme site fidelity in territorial male Antarctic fur seals Arctocephalus gazelle. Mol Ecol 15:3841–3847PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hoffman JI, Steinfartz S, Wolf JBW (2007) Ten novel dinucleotide microsatellite loci cloned from the Galápagos sea lion (Zalophus californianus wollebaeki) are polymorphic in other pinniped species. Mol Ecol Notes 7:103–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Jaquet N (2006) A simple photogrammetric technique to measure sperm whales at sea. Mar Mammal Sci 22:862–879CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Jeglinski JWE, Mueller B, Pörschmann U, Trillmich F (2010) Field-based age estimation of juvenile Galapagos sea lions (Zalophus wollebaeki) using morphometric measurements. Aquat Mamm 36:262–269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kalinowski ST, Taper ML, Marshall TC (2007) Revising how the computer program CERVUS accommodates genotyping error increases success in paternity assignment. Mol Ecol 16:1099–1106PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kelly BP, Badajos OH, Kunnasranta M, Moran JR, Martinez-Bakker M, Wartzok D, Boveng P (2010) Seasonal home ranges and fidelity to breeding sites among ringed seals. Polar Biol 33:1095–1109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kiyota M (2005) Site fidelity, territory acquisition and mating success in male northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus). Mammal study 30:19–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Koivula K, Kimmo L, Orell M, Rytkonen S (1993) Prior residency as a key determinant of social dominance in the willow tit (Parus montanus). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 33:283–287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Kokko H, Jennions MD, Brooks R (2006) Unifying and testing models of sexual selection. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 37:43–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Kraus C, Mueller B, Meise K, Piedrahita P, Pörschmann U, Trillmich F (2012) Mama’s boy: sex differences in juvenile survival in a highly dimorphic large mammal, the Galapagos sea lion. Oecologia (published online, doi: 10.1007/s00442-012-2469-7)
  47. Kunc HP, Wolf JBW (2008) Seasonal changes of vocal rates and their relation to territorial status in male Galápagos sea lions (Zalophus wollebaeki). Ethology 114:318–328CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. LeBeouf BJ (1974) Male–male competition and reproductive success in elephant seals. Am Zool 14:163–176Google Scholar
  49. Marshall TC, Slate J, Kruuk LEB, Pemberton JM (1998) Statistical confidence for likelihood-based paternity inference in natural populations. Mol Ecol 7:639–655PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Mueller B, Pörschmann U, Wolf JBW, Trillmich F (2011) Growth under uncertainty: the influence of marine variability on early development of Galapagos sea lions. Mar Mammal Sci 27:350–365CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Nilsson J-A (1989) Causes and consequences of natal dispersal in the marsh tit, Parus palustris. J Anim Ecol 58:619–636CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Packer C, Gilbert CD, Pusey AE, O’Brien S (1991) A molecular genetic analysis of kinship and cooperation in African lions. Nature 351:562–565CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Perrin N, Lehmann L (2001) Is sociality driven by the cost of dispersal or the benefits of philopatry? A role for kin-discrimination mechanism. Am Nat 158:471–483PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Piper WH (2011) Making habitat selection more “familiar”: a review. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 65:1329–1351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Piper WH, Wiley RH (1989) Correlates of dominance in wintering white-throated sparrows: age, sex and location. Anim Behav 37:298–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Pörschmann U, Trillmich F, Mueller B, Wolf JBW (2010) Male reproductive success and its behavioural correlates in a polygynous mammal, the Galapagos sea lion (Zalophus wollebaeki). Mol Ecol 19:2574–2586PubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. Pomeroy PP, Twiss SD, Redman P (2000) Philopatry, site fidelity and local kin associations within grey seal breeding colonies. Ethology 106:899–919CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Pusey A (1987) Sex-biased dispersal and inbreeding avoidance in birds and mammals. Trends Ecol Evol 2:295–299PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Pyle P, Sydeman WJ, Hester M (2001) Effects of age, breeding experience, mate fidelity and site fidelity on breeding performance in a declining population of Cassin’s auklets. J Anim Ecol 70:1088–1097Google Scholar
  60. R Development Core Team (2010) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, ViennaGoogle Scholar
  61. Raum-Suryan KL, Pitcher KP, Calkins DG, Sease JL, Loughlin TR (2002) Dispersal, rookery fidelity, and metapopulation structure of Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) in an increasing and a decreasing population in Alaska. Mar Mammal Sci 18:746–764CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Redmond LJ, Murphy MT, Dolan AC, Sexton K (2009) Public information facilitates habitat selection of a territorial species: the Eastern Kingbird. Anim Behav 77:457–463CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Ruckstuhl KE, Neuhaus P (2000) Sexual segregation in ungulates: a new approach. Behaviour 137:361–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Shields WM, Crook JR, Hebblethwaite ML, Wiles-Ehmann SS (1988) Ideal free coloniality in the swallows. In: Slobodchikoff CN (ed) The ecology of social behavior. Academic, San Diego, pp 189–228Google Scholar
  65. Stamps J (1995) Motor learning and the value of familiar space. Am Nat 146:41–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Stirling I (1975) Factors affecting the evolution of social behavior in the Pinnipedia. Rapport P-v Reunion Conseil International Exploration de la Mer 169:205–212Google Scholar
  67. Switzer PV (1993) Site fidelity in predictable and unpredictable habitats. Evol Ecol 7:533–555CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Switzer PV (1997a) Past reproductive success affects future habitat selection. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 40:307–312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Switzer PV (1997b) Factors affecting site fidelity in a territorial animal, Perithemis tenera. Anim Behav 53:965–877CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Temeles EJ (1994) The role of neighbors in territorial systems: when are they dear enemies. Anim Behav 47:339–350CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Trillmich F, Trillmich KGK (1984) The mating system of pinnipeds and marine iguanas: convergent evolution of polygyny. Biol J Linn Soc 21:209–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Trillmich F (1990) The behavioral ecology of maternal effort in fur seals and sea lions. Behaviour 114:1–4CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Trivers RL (1972) Parental investment and sexual selection. In: Campbell B (ed) Sexual selection and the descent of man. Aldine Publishing Co, Chicago, pp 136–179Google Scholar
  74. Twiss SD, Pomeroy PP, Anderson SS (1994) Dispersion and site fidelity of breeding male grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) on North Rona, Scotland. J Zool 233:683–693CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Valone TJ (1989) Group foraging, public information and patch estimation. Oikos 56:357–363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Waser PM, Wiley RH (1980) Mechanisms and evolution of spacing in animals. In: Marler P, Vandenbergh JG (eds) Handbook of behavioral neurobiology. Plenum, New York, pp 159–222Google Scholar
  77. Waser PM, Keane B, Creel SR, Elliott LF, Minchella DJ (1994) Possible male coalitions in a solitary mongoose. Anim Behav 47:289–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Watts DP (1998) Coalitionary mate-guarding by male chimpanzees at Ngogo, Kibale National Park, Uganda. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 44:43–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Weatherhead PJ, Boak KA (1986) Site in fidelity in song sparrows. Anim Behav 34:1299–1310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Whitehead H (1990) Rules for roving males. J Theor Biol 145:355–368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Wolf JBW, Kauermann G, Trillmich F (2005) Males in the shade: habitat use and sexual segregation in the Galapagos sea lion (Zalophus californianus wollebaeki). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 59:293–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Wolf JBW, Tautz D, Caccone A, Steinfartz S (2006) Development of new microsatellite loci and evaluation of loci from other pinniped species for the Galápagos sea lion (Zalophus californianus wollebaeki). Conserv Genet 7:461–465CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Wolf JBW, Trillmich F (2007) Beyond habitat requirements: individual fine-scale site fidelity in a colony of the Galápagos sea lion (Zalophus wollebaeki) creates conditions for social structuring. Oecologia 152:553–567PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Wolf JBW, Mawdsley D, Trillmich F, James R (2007) Social structure in a colonial mammal: unravelling hidden structural layers and their foundations by network analysis. Anim Behav 74:1293–1302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Wolf JBW, Trillmich F (2008) Kin in space: social viscosity in a spatially and genetically substructured network. Proc Roy Soc Lond B 275:2063–2069CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Wiszniewski J, Brown C, Möller LM (2012) Complex patterns of male alliance formation in a dolphin social network. J Mammal 93:239–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Ydenberg RC, Giraldeau LA, Falls JB (1988) Neighbours, strangers, and the asymmetric war of attrition. Anim Behav 36:343–347CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristine Meise
    • 1
    Email author
  • Oliver Krüger
    • 2
  • Paolo Piedrahita
    • 1
  • Fritz Trillmich
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Behavioural BiologyUniversity of BielefeldBielefeldGermany
  2. 2.Department of Animal BehaviourUniversity of BielefeldBielefeldGermany

Personalised recommendations