Insights from the first global population estimate of Weddell seals in Antarctica (2021)
Type of ContentJournal Article
PublisherAmerican Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
- Science: Journal Articles 
The Weddell seal is one of the best-studied marine mammals in the world, owing to a multidecadal demographic effort in the southernmost part of its range. Despite their occurrence around the Antarctic coastline, we know little about larger scale patterns in distribution, population size, or structure. We combined high-resolution satellite imagery from 2011, crowd-sourcing, and habitat modeling to report the first global population estimate for the species and environmental factors that influence its distribution. We estimated ~202,000 (95% confidence interval: 85,345 to 523,140) sub-adult and adult female seals, with proximate ocean depth and fast-ice variables as factors explaining spatial prevalence. Distances to penguin colonies were associated with seal presence, but only emperor penguin population size had a strong negative relationship. The small, estimated population size relative to previous estimates and the seals' nexus with trophic competitors indicates that a community ecology approach is required in efforts to monitor the Southern Ocean ecosystem.
CitationLaRue M, Salas L, Nur N, Ainley D, Stammerjohn S, Pennycook J, Dozier M, Saints J, Stamatiou K, Barrington L, Rotella J (2021). Insights from the first global population estimate of Weddell seals in Antarctica. Science Advances. 7(39). eabh3674-.
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ANZSRC Fields of Research31 - Biological sciences
RightsAll rights reserved unless otherwise stated
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