Supplementary material from "Trade-offs between foraging reward and mortality risk drive sex-specific foraging strategies in sexually dimorphic northern elephant seals"

Posted on 13.01.2022 - 08:39
Sex-specific phenotypic differences are widespread throughout the animal kingdom. Reproductive advantages provided by trait differences come at a cost. Here, we link sex-specific foraging strategies to trade-offs between foraging reward and mortality risk in sexually dimorphic northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris). We analyse a decadal dataset on movement patterns, dive behaviour, foraging success and mortality rates. Females are deep-diving predators in open ocean habitats. Males are shallow-diving benthic predators in continental shelf habitats. Males gain six times more mass and acquire energy 4.1 times faster than females. High foraging success comes with a high mortality rate. Males are six times more likely to die than females. These foraging strategies and trade-offs are related to different energy demands and life-history strategies. Males use a foraging strategy with a high mortality risk to attain large body sizes necessary to compete for females, as only a fraction of the largest males ever mate. Females use a foraging strategy with a lower mortality risk, maximizing reproductive success by pupping annually over a long lifespan. Our results highlight how sex-specific traits can drive disparity in mortality rates and expand species' niche space. Further, trade-offs between foraging rewards and mortality risk can differentially affect each sex's ability to maximize fitness.

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Kienle, Sarah S.; Friedlaender, Ari S.; Crocker, Daniel E.; Mehta, Rita S.; Costa, Daniel P. (2021): Supplementary material from "Trade-offs between foraging reward and mortality risk drive sex-specific foraging strategies in sexually dimorphic northern elephant seals". The Royal Society. Collection. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.5769582.v2
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