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Phocid Sensory Systems and Cognition

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Ethology and Behavioral Ecology of Phocids

Abstract

Phocid seals experience disparate terrestrial and aquatic habitats through unique sensory filters. These filters enable them to gather information as they move through each environment, with sensory streams combining to form a salient and perceptually limited construct of the far more cluttered physical world. An understanding of how seals ‘see’ the world is fundamental to every aspect of their behavior. Such an understanding must be pieced together from available clues about their sensory biology and cognitive capabilities. These can be derived from anatomical, behavioral, physiological, and evolutionary studies—and consideration of the unique and sometimes opposing selective pressures operating on these perfectly amphibious carnivores. In this chapter, we summarize what is known about the sensory abilities of phocid seals and link sensory performance to behavior. We examine how vision, hearing, touch and hydrodynamic perception, chemoreception, and other senses operate effectively under the conflicting demands of marine and terrestrial living and consider how information from individual single sensory systems is integrated to form a multimodal representation of the environment.

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Hanke, F.D., Reichmuth, C. (2022). Phocid Sensory Systems and Cognition. In: Costa, D.P., McHuron, E.A. (eds) Ethology and Behavioral Ecology of Phocids . Ethology and Behavioral Ecology of Marine Mammals. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-88923-4_2

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