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PLOS ONE

12 April 2017

PLOS ONE
Breeding success of a marine central place forager in the context of climate change: A modeling approach

Abstract

In response to climate warming, a southward shift in productive frontal systems serving as the main foraging sites for many top predator species is likely to occur in Subantarctic areas. Central place foragers, such as seabirds and pinnipeds, are thus likely to cope with an increase in the distance between foraging locations and their land-based breeding colonies. Understanding how central place foragers should modify their foraging behavior in response to changes in prey accessibility appears crucial. A spatially explicit individual-based simulation model (Marine Central Place Forager Simulator (MarCPFS)), including bio-energetic components, was built to evaluate effects of possible changes in prey resources accessibility on individual performances and breeding success. The study was calibrated on a particular example: the Antarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus gazella), which alternates between oceanic areas in which females feed and the land-based colony in which they suckle their young over a 120 days rearing period. Our model shows the importance of the distance covered to feed and prey aggregation which appeared to be key factors to which animals are highly sensitive. Memorization and learning abilities also appear to be essential breeding success traits. Females were found to be most successful for intermediate levels of prey aggregation and short distance to the resource, resulting in optimal female body length. Increased distance to resources due to climate warming should hinder pups’ growth and survival while female body length should increase.

Keywords

Foraging, Bioenergetics, Predation, Death rates, Seals, Fishes, Animal sexual behavior, Climate change

Massardier-Galatà, L., Morinay, J., Bailleul, F., Wajnberg, E., Guinet, C., and Coquillard, P. (2017). Breeding success of a marine central place forager in the context of climate change: A modeling approach. PLOS ONE 12, e0173797. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0173797

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