Data from: Environmental drivers of population-level variation in the migratory and diving ontogeny of an Arctic top predator (software)

  • James Grecian (Creator)
  • Garry Stenson (Creator)
  • Martin Biuw (Creator)
  • Lars Boehme (Creator)
  • Lars Folkow (Creator)
  • Pierre Goulet (Creator)
  • Ian Jonsen (Creator)
  • Aleksander Malde (Creator)
  • Erling S. Nordøy (Creator)
  • Aqqalu Rosing-Asvid (Creator)
  • Sophie Caroline Smout (Creator)



The development of migratory strategies that enable juveniles to survive to recruitment is critical for species that exploit seasonal niches. For animals that forage via breath-hold diving this requires a combination of both physiological and foraging skill development. Here, we assess how migratory and dive behaviour develop over the first months of life for a migratory Arctic top predator, the harp seal, tracked using animal-borne satellite relay data loggers. We reveal similarities in migratory movements and differences in diving behaviour between juveniles from breeding populations in the Northwest Atlantic and Greenland Sea. In both regions, periods of resident and transient behaviour during migration were associated with proxies for food availability; sea ice concentration and water depth. However, while ontogenetic development of dive behaviour was similar for both groups of juveniles over the first 25 days, after this time Greenland Sea animals performed shorter and shallower dives and were more closely associated with sea ice than Northwest Atlantic animals. Together, these results highlight the role of both intrinsic and extrinsic factors in shaping early-life behaviour. Differences in the environmental conditions experienced during early-life may shape how populations respond to the rapid changes occurring in the Arctic ocean ecosystem.
Date made available2022


  • Software

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