A successful breeding episode requires individuals to locate suitable mates, produce young, and rear them to independence within a suitable environment, time, and place. All this must be done while avoiding predators and competing for essential, finite resources, such as access to mates or breeding sites. Phocid seal species show great diversity in the behaviors that have evolved to overcome these challenges. Although all phocids forage in marine environments, they give birth on various substrate types, the temporal and spatial separation of which imposes significant energetic pressures on breeding individuals. Most existing detailed studies of phocid breeding behavior have been on species that breed in large, land-based colonies where most of their reproductive behavior is visible to observers. There are significant gaps in our knowledge of seals breeding in remote environments, small groups, and those that forage while breeding or display and mate underwater. Improvements in telemetry devices, ways of examining links between behavior and physiology in free-ranging seals, and remote surveying techniques will be essential for continuing to expand our understanding of breeding behavior in phocids and to predict how individuals or populations may respond to changing environments and anthropogenic activities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEthology and behavioral ecology of phocids
EditorsDaniel P. Costa, Elizabeth A. McHuron
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages51
ISBN (Electronic)9783030889234
ISBN (Print)9783030889227, 9783030889258
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2022

Publication series

NameEthology and behavioral ecology of marine mammals
ISSN (Print)2523-7500
ISSN (Electronic)2523-7519


  • Phocid seals
  • Reproductive behavior
  • Mating
  • Aggression
  • Maternal behavior
  • Philopatry
  • Allosuckling
  • Pup behavior
  • Post-weaning fast


Dive into the research topics of 'Breeding behavior'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this