Distribution and habitat suitability of Ross seals in a warming ocean

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dc.contributor.author Wege, Mia
dc.contributor.author Bornemann, Horst
dc.contributor.author Blix, Arnoldus Schytte
dc.contributor.author Nordoy, Erling Sverre
dc.contributor.author Biddle, Louise
dc.contributor.author Bester, Marthan Nieuwoudt
dc.date.accessioned 2022-03-02T05:15:25Z
dc.date.available 2022-03-02T05:15:25Z
dc.date.issued 2021-05-13
dc.description.abstract Understanding the determinants of poorly studied species’ spatial ecology is fundamental to understanding climate change impacts on those species and how to effectively prioritise their conservation. Ross seals (Ommatophoca rossii) are the least studied of the Antarctic pinnipeds with a limited knowledge of their spatial ecology. We present the largest tracking study for this species to date, create the first habitat models, and discuss the potential impacts of climate change on their preferred habitat and the implications for conservation. We combined newly collected satellite tracking data (2016–2019: n = 11) with previously published data (2001: n = 8) from the Weddell, King Haakon VII and Lazarev seas, Antarctica, and used 16 remotely sensed environmental variables to model Ross seal habitat suitability by means of boosted regression trees for summer and winter, respectively. Five of the top environmental predictors were relevant in both summer and winter (sea-surface temperature, distance to the ice edge, ice concentration standard deviation, mixed-layer depth, and sea-surface height anomalies). Ross seals preferred to forage in waters ranging between -1 and 2°C, where the mixed-layer depth was shallower in summer and deeper in winter, where current speeds were slower, and away from the ice edge in the open ocean. Receding ice edge and shoaling of the mixed layer induced by climate change may reduce swimming distances and diving depths, thereby reducing foraging costs. However, predicted increased current speeds and sea-surface temperatures may reduce habitat suitability in these regions. We suggest that the response of Ross seals to climate change will be regionally specific, their future success will ultimately depend on how their prey responds to regional climate effects and their own behavioural plasticity. en_ZA
dc.description.department Mammal Research Institute en_ZA
dc.description.department Zoology and Entomology en_ZA
dc.description.librarian am2022 en_ZA
dc.description.sponsorship The National Research Foundation (NRF) South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP) and the Open Access Publication Funds of Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung. en_ZA
dc.description.uri https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/marine-science# en_ZA
dc.identifier.citation Wege M, Bornemann H, Blix AS, Nordøy ES, Biddle L and Bester MN (2021) Distribution and Habitat Suitability of Ross Seals in a Warming Ocean. Frontiers in Marine Science 8:659430. DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2021.659430. en_ZA
dc.identifier.issn 2296-7745 (online)
dc.identifier.other 10.3389/fmars.2021.659430
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2263/84288
dc.language.iso en en_ZA
dc.publisher Frontiers Media en_ZA
dc.rights © 2021 Wege, Bornemann, Blix, Nordøy, Biddle and Bester. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). en_ZA
dc.subject Antarctica en_ZA
dc.subject Biologging en_ZA
dc.subject Boosted regression trees models en_ZA
dc.subject Climate change en_ZA
dc.subject Habitat utilisation en_ZA
dc.subject Species distribution model en_ZA
dc.subject Remote sensing en_ZA
dc.subject Weddell sea en_ZA
dc.title Distribution and habitat suitability of Ross seals in a warming ocean en_ZA
dc.type Article en_ZA


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