Implantation of subcutaneous heart rate data loggers in southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina)
Unlike most phocid species (Phocidae), Mirounga leonina (southern elephant seals) experience a catastrophic moult where they not only replace their hair but also their epidermis when ashore for approximately 1 month. Few studies have investigated behavioural and physiological adaptations of southern elephant seals during the moult fast, a particularly energetically costly life cycle’s phase. Recording heart rate is a reliable technique for estimating energy expenditure in the field. For the first time, subcutaneous heart rate data loggers were successfully implanted during the moult in two free-ranging southern elephant seals over 3–6 days. No substantial postoperative complications were encountered and consistent heart rate data were obtained. This promising surgical technique opens new opportunities for monitoring heart rate in phocid seals.
KeywordsMarine mammals Pinnipeds Surgery
The present research project was supported by the Institut Polaire Français Paul-Emile Victor (IPEV program 1037). We thank the Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises for logistic support, Christophe Guinet (CEBC CNRS; IPEV program 109) for facilitating fieldwork and also Lucas Delalande and Ásgeir Bjarnason for valuable assistance.
The overall study was funded by the Institut Polaire Français Paul-Emile Victor (IPEV Program 1037 HEnergES), doctoral fellowships of French Ministry of Higher Education and Research (Graduate School 227 of National Museum of Natural History, University of Pierre and Marie Curie), the University of St Andrews, the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS) and the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Elephant seal work (Program IPEV 1037, HENERGES) was approved by The Antarctic Committee for Environmental Protection and the Ethic Committee (Cometh ANSES/ENVA/UPEC n°16: n°14-055 and n°15-061). The program was also authorised by the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (Decree 2014-131, 15th October 2014; Decree 2015-110, 4th September 2015). All applicable international, national and institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution or practice at which the studies were conducted.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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