Polar Biology

, Volume 30, Issue 10, pp 1275–1283 | Cite as

The population trend of southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina L.) at Macquarie Island (1952–2004)

  • John van den Hoff
  • Harry Burton
  • Ben Raymond
Original Paper


Total numbers of adult female southern elephant seals (cows) breeding at Macquarie Island were determined for 19 of the 52 year period between 1952 and 2004. Totals for 1952–1987 (exc. 1959 and 1985) were estimated from the relationship between censuses of the isthmus study area and concurrent censuses for the whole island. Totals for 1987–2004 were obtained by direct census of the entire island in mid-October. Cow numbers decreased from a maximum of about 40,000 in the 1950s to a minimum of 18,300 in 2000, but then increased slightly to 19,200 in 2004. Nonlinear and post-hoc linear analysis of the count data identified 1999 as the year when the exponential rate of change (r) slowed from −1.4% per annum to near zero. The rate of change was not uniform for each census sub-area counted (1987–2004), suggesting that certain terrestrially based density-dependent mechanisms were influencing the annual distribution of cows.


Long-term study Rate of increase GAM Non-linear Antarctica Sub-Antarctic 



This study was carried out with the approval of the Antarctic Animal Care and Ionising Radiation Usage Ethics Committee (Department of the Environment, Commonwealth of Australia) and the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service. We especially thank David Slip for initiating the paper and Clive McMahon for inputs into various earlier versions. We also acknowledge the many members of the 1952 - 2004 ANARE to Macquarie Island who helped in the counting of seals. Angela Bender drew Fig. 1.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian Antarctic DivisionKingstonAustralia

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