Measuring changes in juvenile grey seal body composition

Ailsa Jane Hall, Bernie J McConnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Determining body composition in gray seals (Halichoerus grypus) is important when studying their physiology and life history. In this study we investigated the predictability of total body fat (TBF) and protein (TBP) in postweaned gray seal pups from morphometric measurements, blubber thickness using ultrasonographs and bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA). In postweaned pups, TBF (kg) could be estimated from girth measurements and sex (n = 45, r(2) = 0.878) using hydrogen isotope dilution methods as the reference. However, TBP could not be reliably estimated from morphometric data. TBF (kg) in yearlings was best predicted from mass (n = 6, r(2) = 0.776) and TBP (kg) from mass/length (r(2) = 0.949). Dorsal blubber thickness using B-mode ultrasound was also a significant predictor of TBF (kg) in postweaned pups (r(2) = 0.725) but BIA was not. Marked pups were recaptured during their first few months of life (n = 48) and body composition changes investigated. Animals lost mass and TBF after leaving the breeding beach, largely during the first 5-6 mo of life. Postweaned pups were similar to 40% TBF and similar to 13% TBP whereas yearlings were similar to 12% TBF and similar to 20% TBP. Pups that survived beyond 6 mo of age then regained mass as protein. Morphometric measurements are a useful field indication of body condition when isotope dilution is impractical.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)650-665
Number of pages16
JournalMarine Mammal Science
Volume23
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007

Keywords

  • gray seal
  • Halichoerus grypus
  • total body fat
  • total body protein
  • isotope dilution
  • ultrasound
  • BIA
  • survival
  • BIOELECTRICAL-IMPEDANCE ANALYSIS
  • SOUTHERN ELEPHANT SEAL
  • ANTARCTIC FUR SEALS
  • MIROUNGA-LEONINA
  • BLUBBER THICKNESS
  • HARBOR SEAL
  • PHOCA-VITULINA
  • WEANING MASS
  • GREY SEALS
  • PUPS

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Measuring changes in juvenile grey seal body composition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this