Nav: Home

Study offers detailed insight into early-life behavior of grey seal pups at sea

November 14, 2017

Male and female grey seal pups show distinct behavioural differences as they learn to forage in the early stages of their independence, according to new research which scientists believe could be crucial to the future protection of their habitat.

The pups are abandoned by their mothers when they are just three weeks old, with many of them never having ventured into the sea, let alone sourced their own food.

In a critical period lasting around 40 days after going to sea, pups have to find regular sources of food and perfect their diving and prey-catching techniques before their energy stores run out.

Using data from tracking devices, scientists showed that female pups from Welsh colonies were more likely to dive in shallower water than their male counterparts, reaching the seabed more frequently and likely having greater feeding opportunities as a result.

Although adult male grey seals are much larger than females, there is no significant difference in body size at this age and scientists think the differences in behaviour of pups may be driven by underlying physiological processes that prepare them for adult life.

The study also presented data of young seals from Scotland, showing them heading across the North Sea as far as Norway, while individuals from West Wales travelled as far as the northern coast of France. Some of the seals remained at sea without returning to land for up to two months during this early developmental phase.

The research was conducted by academics from the University of Plymouth, the Sea Mammal Research Unit at the University of St Andrews and Abertay University, and is published in Scientific Reports.

Scientists believe the insights it provides into the initial foraging behaviour of grey seal pups around the UK could be important for the development of future protection of key habitat for these animals when they are at their most vulnerable.

Matt Carter, a PhD student within the Marine Vertebrate Research Group at the University of Plymouth, led the research. He said: "Grey seals are a top predator in UK seas, but we know very little about the early-life behaviour of young pups at sea. In the first three weeks of their lives, whilst suckling on land, they can treble in mass, but they are then abandoned and have to fend for themselves. This study fills in some of the blanks with regards to what happens when they go to sea, and will help us to understand more about the types of habitat that are important for their development."

The UK is home to around 40% of the world grey seal population and has an obligation under European Union legislation to maintain them in favourable conservation status. As part of that, critical habitats must be identified both on land and at sea where disturbance caused by human activity is minimised.

This study used data from 52 recently-weaned grey seal pups from colonies in Scotland and Wales, tagged by the Sea Mammal Research Unit. The tracking devices recorded their movements including dive duration and depth as well as location data.

The results show that in the first 40 days after leaving the colony, the pups show a fast rate of behavioural development, which includes increasing their dive performance and learning where best to source food.

Dr Clare Embling, Lecturer in Marine Ecology, said: "This initial stage is when the pups are at their most vulnerable and juvenile survival is important to sustain stable populations. Seals are facing increasing threats, such as fisheries bycatch and increasing noise from shipping and construction activities, which we are continuing to explore as part of our wider research."

Dr Kimberley Bennett, Lecturer in Biomedical Science at Abertay University, who conceived the study added: "This study adds to what we know about increasing dive performance in seal pups as they first learn how to find and catch fish. It's exciting to see such differences between regions, and in the behaviour of males and females, which might set up their feeding strategies later in life."
-end-


University of Plymouth

Related Behaviour Articles:

Parents with bipolar benefit from self-help tool
Online self-management support for parents with Bipolar Disorder leads to improvements in parenting and child behavior.
It takes 2 to tango: Beetles are equal partners in mating behavior
Beetles that copulate with the same mate as opposed to different partners will repeat the same behavior, debunking previous suggestions that one sex exerts control over the other in copulation, new research has found.
Learning makes animals intelligent
The fact that animals can use tools, have self-control and certain expectations of life can be explained with the help of a new learning model for animal behavior.
Carrots and sticks fail to change behaviour in cocaine addiction
People who are addicted to cocaine are particularly prone to developing habits that render their behaviour resistant to change, regardless of the potentially devastating consequences, suggests new research from the University of Cambridge.
York U's OUCH lab pain study links children's fear of needles to parent behaviour
The researchers observed 202 parents in the Greater Toronto Area and 130 children between four and five years of age -- these children were among the 760 who were followed at the first wave at two, four, six and/or 12-month immunizations.
Can believing you are a food addict affect your eating behavior?
Researchers from the University of Liverpool have published a paper regarding their work on how beliefs about food addiction can affect eating behavior.
The hormone cortisol has been linked to increased aggression in 10-year-old boys
Spanish researchers have studied the relationship between hormones and aggressive behavior in girls and boys between the ages of 8 and 10.
Communicating genetic disease risk has little or no impact on health related behavior
Communicating the results of DNA tests has little or no impact on behavior change, such as stopping smoking or increasing physical activity, finds a study published by The BMJ today.
Manipulative behavior could be link between EI and delinquency in young women
A Plymouth University academic has published a study showing that young women with high emotional intelligence are more likely to use manipulative behaviors, resulting in a greater engagement in delinquency.
Monitoring chicken flock behaviour could help combat leading cause of food poisoning
A new technique that monitors the movement of chickens can be used to predict which flocks are at risk of becoming infected with Campylobacter -- the most common bacterial source of food poisoning in humans in the UK.

Related Behaviour Reading:

Organizational Behavior (16th Edition)
by Stephen P. Robbins (Author), Timothy A. Judge (Author)

Long considered the standard for all organizational behavior textbooks, Organizational Behavior provides the research you want, in the language your students understand. This text continues its tradition of making current, relevant research come alive for students.

 

The Sixteenth Edition has been thoroughly updated to reflect the most current recent research for Organizational Behavior, while maintaining its hallmark features –clear writing style, cutting-edge content, and engaging pedagogy.... View Details


Essentials of Organizational Behavior (14th Edition)
by Stephen P. Robbins (Author), Timothy A. Judge (Author)

For courses in organizational behavior.

 

A streamlined presentation of key organizational behavior concepts

Essentials of Organizational Behavior teaches readers how to communicate and interact within organizations, through real-world scenarios. The text offers comprehensive coverage of key organizational behavior (OB) concepts, making each lesson engaging and easy to absorb. Readers can use the book’s concepts to apply what they’ve learned to their own education, future career... View Details


Organizational Behavior (17th Edition) - Standalone book
by Stephen P. Robbins (Author), Timothy A. Judge (Author)

NOTE: You are purchasing a standalone product;

For undergraduate and graduate courses in Organizational Behavior.

 

Help Students Better Understand Their Behavioral and Interpersonal Skills

Long considered the standard for all organizational behavior textbooks, Organizational Behavior provides the research you want, in the language you can understand. This text continues its tradition of making current, relevant... View Details


Animal Behavior: An Evolutionary Approach
by John Alcock (Author)

This new edition of Animal Behavior has been thoroughly rewritten with coverage of much recent work in animal behavior. The scope of the changes for the tenth edition, however, is much more all-encompassing than that of past revisions. Thoughtful suggestions from many readers inspired a major reorganization of the material, such that the new book presents the central concepts of animal behavior in a different sequence from prior editions:

The Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. Instead of introducing the concept of proximate and ultimate causation and... View Details


Organizational Behavior: Improving Performance and Commitment in the Workplace
by Jason A Colquitt (Author), Jeffery A LePine Associate Professor Prof (Author), Michael J. Wesson Associate Professor Prof. (Author)

Now in its 5th edition, Colquitt-LePine-Wesson continues to offer a novel and innovative approach to teaching organizational behavior. The focus, tone, and organization of the book shows students that:

OB really matters - The book opens with two chapters barely covered in other texts: job performance and organizational commitment. Those topics are critical to manages and students alike, and represent two of the most critical outcomes in OB. Each successive chapter then links that chapter's topic back to those outcomes, illustrating why OB matters in... View Details


Organizational Behavior: An Evidence-Based Approach, 13th Ed.
by Fred Luthans (Author), Brett C. Luthans (Contributor), Kyle W. Luthans (Contributor)

Our goal with this 13th Edition is to keep this first mainline organizational behavior text up-todate with the latest and relevant theory building, basic and applied research, and the best-practice applications. We give special recognition of this scientific foundation by our subtitle¬--An Evidence-Based Approach. As emphasized in the introductory chapter, the time has come to help narrow the theory/research-effective application/practice gap. This has been the mission from the beginning of this text. As "hard evidence" for this theory/research based text, we can say unequivocally that no... View Details


Loose Leaf for Organizational Behavior: A Practical, Problem-Solving Approach
by Angelo Kinicki (Author), Mel Fugate Associate Professor (Author)

Kinicki/Fugate Organizational Behavior 2e develops students' problem solving skills through a consistent, integrated 3-step problem-solving approach that lets them immediately put research-based knowledge into practice in their personal and professional lives. Organizational Behavior, 2e, explicitly addresses OB implications for students' jobs and careers, showing how OB provides them with the higher-level soft skills employers seek, such as problem solving, critical thinking, leadership and decision making. We strongly believe that applying... View Details


Organizational Behavior in Health Care
by Nancy Borkowski (Author)

The U.S. health care industry continues to grow and change dramatically. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the industry has experienced some of the most dynamic changes that health care managers have seen. In the coming years, more system-wide changes will occur as we continue our push forward to achieve value-based health care. Health care managers are quickly learning that what worked in the past may not work in the future. Organizational Behavior in Health Care, Third Edition is specifically written for health care managers who are on the front lines every day, motivating and... View Details


Managing Organizational Behavior: What Great Managers Know and Do
by Timothy Baldwin (Author), Bill Bommer (Author), Robert Rubin (Author)

Managing Organizational Behavior by Baldwin/Bommer/Rubin distinguishes itself from other OB texts by taking a carefully-balanced approach to OB. It covers all traditional OB topics but in a decision-oriented, not just descriptive, way. It embraces the best OB models and evidence but engages students in how to use those models to improve their skill-sets and more successfully navigate organizational life. It is expressly designed to reconcile student demands for relevance and application with instructor interests in rigor, evidence and appropriate coverage of the discipline. Its... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Confronting Stigma
Why do we harshly judge certain behaviors or conditions, making it harder to talk honestly about them? This hour, TED speakers confront stigmas around addiction, depression, HIV and sex work. Guests include journalist Johann Hari, TV/film producer and mental health advocate Nikki Webber Allen, HIV awareness educator Arik Hartmann, and sex worker and activist Juno Mac.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#462 The Future of Energy
This week, we have some very special guest hosts, sharing a recording of a panel they moderated about the future of energy and where we can draw inspiration from science fiction. This panel was recorded at the Generation Energy Conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and moderated by Molly Swain and Chelsea Vowel, the ladies that run the most excellent podcast Métis in Space.