Reply-To: Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
Subject: Display behaviour of male harbour seals
Van Parijs, S.M., Janik V.M. and Thompson, P.M. 2000. Display area size,
tenure length and site fidelity in the aquatically mating male harbour seal.
Canadian Journal of Zoology, 78, 2209 - 2217.
Previous studies of the distribution and activity of male harbour seals,
Phoca vitulina, based on telemetric techniques have shown that, males
restrict their range size at the onset of the mating season and perform
vocal and dive displays. While these data have illustrated broad changes in
male behaviour and distribution, they have not been sufficiently precise to
determine to what extent individual males return repeatedly to the same
locations to display. In this study, we used an acoustic array to localise
male vocalisations. This technique provided small scale behavioural
information on male behaviour over three consecutive years. This study
provides the first detailed results of display area size in an aquatic
mating phocid. Male vocalisations were located in two discrete areas between
40 to 135 m2 in size. Vocalisations were repeatedly located in the same two
areas over the three-year period. Comparisons of vocal parameters suggested
that only one individual occupied each area throughout a mating season.
Furthermore, comparative analysis suggested that males might return to the
same two display areas over successive years. Although the number of males
using the site were small, this study has shown that acoustic localisation
can provide a valuable tool for studying detailed underwater behaviour in
aquatic mating pinnipeds.
Dr. Sofie Van Parijs,
Norwegian Polar Institute,
Troms N - 9296,Norway
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