Polar Biology

, Volume 29, Issue 12, pp 1052–1062 | Cite as

Population abundance, structure and turnover estimates for leopard seals during winter dispersal combining tagging and photo-identification data

  • Jaume ForcadaEmail author
  • Sarah L. Robinson
Original Paper


Winter dispersal in leopard seals is poorly understood because of its low density in most of its range. By combining photo-identification and tagging data from Bird Island, South Georgia, in mark-recapture models, leopard seal abundance over the winter of 2005 was estimated as 118 (95% CI: 78–179). Seasonal residents arrived earlier and stayed longer around the island (27 days; 95% CI: 23–32) and their numbers were low and stable over the winter \((\bar{x} = 12; 95\%\hbox{CI}: 5\hbox{--}28).\) Most of the seals (81; 95% CI: 31–130) were young transients, stayed only 1–7 days, and arrived later in the season. This suggests (1) very low predatory pressure upon the locally abundant prey populations; (2) two different patterns of winter movements: a winter migration in adult seals with long-term site fidelity, and large numbers of juveniles in dispersal possibly attracted by locally abundant prey colonies, and potentially influenced by increased environmental stress.


Residency Time Leopard Seal Macaroni Penguin Capture Occasion Seasonal Resident 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We are grateful to H.F. Taylor and A. Thomas who helped in the collection of photo-identification data at Bird Island, South Georgia. P. Bucktrout from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) Photo Unit provided invaluable support in the creation of the leopard seal catalogue and database. I.P. Forster improved the manuscript with helpful comments. This work was carried out in support of the BAS DISCOVERY 2010 and LTMS Core Science Programmes at South Georgia.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research CouncilCambridgeUK

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