Skip to main content

Birth-year and current-year influences on survival and recruitment rates of female Weddell seals

Abstract

In long-lived species, juvenile survival typically is lower and more variable than adult survival, and modeling such variation is important for understanding population dynamics. Variability in juvenile survival can be related to birth- or current-year influences, and the birth-year influences can be transient, persistent, or intermediate in duration. We used multi-state models and data collected from 5,459 known-aged prebreeder female Weddell seals (Leptonychotes weddellii Lesson) tagged in Erebus Bay, Antarctica from 1980–2007 to evaluate the duration of potential birth-year influences on survival rates and the importance of birth- and current-year influences on survival and recruitment rates. Survival rates differed for each birth cohort and were positively related to current-year winter sea-ice conditions. The estimated duration of birth-cohort effects on survival was intermediate (6 years) rather than transient (2 years) or permanent. Estimated survivorship from birth to 6 years of age varied among cohorts from 0.13 (SE = 0.04) to 0.42 (SE = 0.06), and averaged 0.25 (SE = 0.02). Recruitment rates (probability of transitioning from prebreeder to breeder state) varied annually but apparently were not related to birth-year conditions. Our results provide evidence that birth- and current-year conditions act in combination to influence survival. Although for many long-lived species the influences of either birth- or current-year conditions on survival are well-studied, we suggest that modeling survival rates as a function of birth- and current-year influences simultaneously could lead to better understanding of survival and improved stochastic models to project population dynamics.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5

References

  • Ainley DG, Siniff DB (2009) The importance of Antarctic toothfish as prey of Weddell seals in the Ross Sea. Antarct Sci 21:317–327

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ainley DG, Ballard G, Dugger KM (2006) Competition among penguins and cetaceans reveals trophic cascades in the western Ross Sea, Antarctica. Ecology 87:2080–2093

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Arrigo KR, Thomas DN (2004) Large scale importance of sea ice biology in the Southern Ocean. Antarct Sci 16:471–486

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Barbraud C, Weimerskirch H, Guinet C, Jouventin P (2000) Effect of sea-ice extent on adult survival of an Antarctic top predator: the snow petrel Pagodroma nivea. Oecologia 125:483–488

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Beauplet G, Barbraud C, Chambellant M, Guinet C (2005) Interannual variation in the post-weaning and juvenile survival of subantarctic fur seals: influence of pup sex, growth rate and oceanographic conditions. J Anim Ecol 74:1160–1172

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brownie C, Hines JE, Nichols JD, Pollock KH, Hestbeck JB (1993) Capture-recapture studies for multiple strata including non-Markovian transitions. Biometrics 49:1173–1187

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Burnham KP, Anderson DR (2002) Model selection and multimodel inference; a practical information-theoretic approach, 2nd edn. Springer, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Burns JM, Trumble SJ, Castellini MA, Testa JW (1998) The diet of Weddell seals in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica as determined from scat collections and stable isotope analysis. Polar Biol 19:272–282

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Burns JM, Castellini MA, Testa JW (1999) Movements and diving behavior of weaned Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddellii) pups. Polar Biol 21:23–36

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cam E, Link WA, Cooch EG, Monnat J, Danchin E (2002) Individual covariation in life-history traits: seeing the trees despite the forest. Am Nat 159:96–105

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cam E, Monnat J-Y, Hines JE (2003) Long-term fitness consequences of early conditions in the kittiwake. J Anim Ecol 72:411–424

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cameron MF, Siniff DB (2004) Age-specific survival, abundance, and immigration rates of a Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddellii) population in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Can J Zool 82:601–615

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Choquet R, Gimenez O (2012) Towards built-in capture–recapture mixed models in program E-SURGE. J Ornithol 152:625–639

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Doherty PF, White GC, Burnham KP (2010) Comparison of model building and selection strategies. J Ornithol 152:317–323

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Drummond H, Rodríguez C, Oro D (2011) Natural “poor start” does not increase mortality over the lifetime. Proc R Soc B 278:3421–3427

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Forcada J, Trathan PN, Murphy EJ (2008) Life history buffering in Antarctic mammals and birds against changing patterns of climate and environmental variation. Global Change Biol 14:2473–2488

    Google Scholar 

  • Gaillard J-M, Boutin J-M, Delorme D, van Laere G, Duncan P, Lebreton J-D (1997) Early survival in roe deer: causes and consequences of cohort variation in two contrasted populations. Oecologia 112:502–513

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gaillard J-M, Festa-Bianchet M, Yoccoz NG (1998) Population dynamics of large herbivores: variable recruitment with constant adult survival. Trends Ecol Evol 13:58–63

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Gaillard J-M, Festa-Bianchet M, Yoccoz NG, Loison A, Toïgo C (2000) Temporal variation in fitness components and population dynamics of large herbivores. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 31:367–393

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Garrott RA, Rotella JJ, Siniff DB, Parkinson CL, Stauffer GE (2012) Environmental variation and cohort effects in an Antarctic predator. Oikos 121:1027–1040

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Grafen A (1988) On the uses of data on lifetime reproductive success. In: Clutton-Brock TH (ed) Reproductive success: studies of individual variation in contrasting breeding systems. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 454–471

    Google Scholar 

  • Hadley GL, Rotella JJ, Garrott RA, Nichols JD (2006) Variation in probability of first reproduction of Weddell seals. J Anim Ecol 75:1058–1070

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hadley GL, Rotella JJ, Garrott RA (2007a) Influence of maternal characteristics and oceanographic conditions on survival and recruitment probabilities of Weddell seals. Oikos 116:601–613

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hadley GL, Rotella JJ, Garrott RA (2007b) Evaluation of reproductive costs for Weddell seals in Erebus Bay, Antarctica. J Anim Ecol 76:448–458

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hadley GL, Rotella JJ, Garrott RA (2008) Spatial variation in age-specific probabilities of first reproduction for Weddell seals. Oikos 117:1165–1174

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hall AJ, McConnell BJ, Barker RJ (2001) Factors affecting first-year survival in grey seals and their implications for life history strategy. J Anim Ecol 70:138–149

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hastings KK, Testa JW (1998) Maternal and birth colony effects on survival of Weddell seal offspring from McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. J Anim Ecol 67:722–740

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jenouvrier S, Barbraud C, Weimerskirch H (2006) Sea ice affects the population dynamics of Adelie penguins in Terre Adelie. Polar Biol 29:413–423

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kwok R, Comiso JC (2002) Southern Ocean climate and sea ice anomalies associated with the Southern Oscillation. J Climate 15:487–501

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Laake JL (2010) RMark: R code for MARK analysis. R package version 1(9):6

    Google Scholar 

  • Langtimm CA (2009) Non-random temporary emigration and the robust design: conditions for bias at the end of a time series. Environ Ecol Stat 3:745–761

    Google Scholar 

  • Lindström J (1999) Early development and fitness in birds and mammals. Trends Ecol Evol 14:343–348

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Loeb V, Siegel V, Holm-Hansen O, Hewitt R, Fraser W, Trivelpiece W, Trivelpiece S (1997) Effects of sea-ice extent and krill or salp dominance on the Antarctic food web. Nature 387:897–900

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Madsen T, Shine R (2000) Silver spoons and snake body sizes: prey availability early in life influences long-term growth rates of free-ranging pythons. J Anim Ecol 69:952–958

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Martin JGA, Festa-Bianchet M (2010) Bighorn ewes transfer the costs of reproduction to their lambs. Am Nat 176:414–423

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • McMahon CR, Burton HR (2005) Climate change and seal survival: evidence for environmentally mediated changes in elephant seal, Mirounga leonina, pup survival. Proc R Soc B 272:923–928

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • McMahon CR, Burton HR, Bester MN (2000) Weaning mass and the future survival of juvenile southern elephant seals, Mirounga leonina, at Macquarie Island. Antarct Sci 12:149–153

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Metcalfe NB, Monaghan P (2001) Compensation for a bad start: grow now, pay later? Trends Ecol Evol 16:254–260

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Monaghan P (2008) Early growth conditions, phenotypic development and environmental change. Philos Trans R Soc B Biol Sci 363:1635–1645

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nichols JD, Kendall WL (1995) The use of multi-state capture-recapture models to address questions in evolutionary ecology. J Appl Stat 22:835

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pfister CA (1998) Patterns of variance in stage-structured populations: evolutionary predictions and ecological implications. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 95:213–218

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Powell LA (2007) Approximating variance of demographic parameters using the delta method: a reference for avian biologists. Condor 109:949–954

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Proffitt KM, Garrott RA, Rotella JJ, Wheatley KE (2007a) Environmental and senescent related variations in Weddell seal body mass: implications for age-specific reproductive performance. Oikos 116:1683–1690

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Proffitt KM, Garrott RA, Rotella JJ, Siniff DB, Testa JW (2007b) Exploring linkages between abiotic oceanographic processes and a top-trophic predator in an Antarctic ecosystem. Ecosystems 10:120–127

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Proffitt KM, Garrott RA, Rotella JJ (2008a) Long-term evaluation of body mass at weaning and postweaning survival rates of Weddell seals in Erebus Bay, Antarctica. Mar Mammal Sci 24:677–689

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Proffitt KM, Garrott RA, Rotella JJ (2008b) Variation in offspring sex ratio among individual Weddell seal females of different quality. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 62:1679–1687

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Proffitt KM, Rotella JJ, Garrott RA (2010) Effects of pup age, maternal age, and birth date on pre-weaning survival rates of Weddell seals in Erebus Bay, Antarctica. Oikos 119:1255–1264

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • R Development Core Team (2012) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R foundation for statistical computing. Vienna. ISBN 3-900051-07-0. http://www.R-project.org

  • Reid JM, Bignal EM, Bignal S, McCracken DI, Monaghan P (2003) Environmental variability, life-history covariation and cohort effects in the red-billed chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax. J Anim Ecol 72:36–46

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rödel HG, von Holst D (2009) Features of the early juvenile development predict competitive performance in male European rabbits. Physiol Behav 97:495–502

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rotella JJ, Link WA, Nichols JD, Hadley GL, Garrott RA, Proffitt KM (2009) An evaluation of density-dependent and density-independent influences on population growth rates in Weddell seals. Ecology 90:975–984

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Smith MSR (1965) Seasonal movements of the Weddell seal in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. J Wildlife Manage 29:464–470

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Stenseth NC, Ottersen G, Hurrell JW, Mysterud A, Lima M, Chan K, Yoccoz NG, Ådlandsvik B (2003) Review article. Studying climate effects on ecology through the use of climate indices: the North Atlantic Oscillation, El Niño Southern Oscillation and beyond. Proc R Soc B 270:2087–2096

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Testa JW, Siniff DB, Ross MJ, Winter JD (1985) Weddell seal—Antarctic cod interactions in McMurdo Sound. In: Siegfried WR, Condy PR, Laws RM (eds) Antarctic nutrient cycles and food webs. Proceedings of the 4th SCAR symposium on Antarctic biology. Springer, New York, pp 561–565

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Testa JW, Oehlert G, Ainley DG, Bengtson JL, Siniff DB, Laws RM, Rounsevell D (1991) Temporal variability in Antarctic marine ecosystems—periodic fluctuations in the Phocid seals. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 48:631–639

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • van de Pol M, Bruinzeel LW, Heg D, van der Jeugd HP, Verhulst S (2006) A silver spoon for a golden future: long-term effects of natal origin on fitness prospects of oystercatchers (Haematopus ostralegus). J Anim Ecol 75:616–626

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • White GC, Burnham KP (1999) Program MARK: survival estimation from populations of marked animals. Bird Study 46(Suppl):120–138

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wilson PR, Ainley DG, Nur N, Jacobs SS, Barton KJ, Ballard G, Comiso JC (2001) Adélie penguin population change in the pacific sector of Antarctica: relation to sea-ice extent and the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 213:301–309

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Yuan X (2004) ENSO-related impacts on Antarctic sea ice: a synthesis of phenomenon and mechanisms. Antarct Sci 16:415–425

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation, Office of Polar Programs (Grant No. ANT-0635739 to R. A. Garrott, J. J. Rotella, and D. B. Siniff, and previous grants to D. B. Siniff and J. W. Testa). Animal handling protocol was approved by Montana State University’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (Protocol #41-05). Raytheon Polar Services Corporation, Petroleum Helicopters International, and the New York National Guard provided logistical support for field work in Antarctica. W. L. Kendall, T. E. McMahon, and D. B. Siniff and 2 anonymous reviewers provided useful comments on previous manuscript drafts. Many field assistants assisted with data collection.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Glenn E. Stauffer.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Stauffer, G.E., Rotella, J.J. & Garrott, R.A. Birth-year and current-year influences on survival and recruitment rates of female Weddell seals. Popul Ecol 55, 405–415 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10144-013-0379-0

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10144-013-0379-0

Keywords

  • Capture-mark-recapture
  • Environmental variability
  • Marine mammal
  • McMurdo Sound
  • Pinniped
  • Southern Ocean