Thermal and digestive constraints to foraging behaviour in marine mammals

D A S Rosen, Arliss Winship, L A Hoopes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

While foraging models of terrestrial mammals are concerned primarily with optimizing time/energy budgets, models of foraging behaviour in marine mammals have been primarily concerned with physiological constraints. This has historically centred on calculations of aerobic dive limits. However, other physiological limits are key to forming foraging behaviour, including digestive limitations to food intake and thermoregulation. The ability of an animal to consume sufficient prey to meet its energy requirements is partly determined by its ability to acquire prey ( limited by available foraging time, diving capabilities and thermoregulatory costs) and process that prey ( limited by maximum digestion capacity and the time devoted to digestion). Failure to consume sufficient prey will have feedback effects on foraging, thermoregulation and digestive capacity through several interacting avenues. Energy deficits will be met through catabolism of tissues, principally the hypodermal lipid layer. Depletion of this blubber layer can affect both buoyancy and gait, increasing the costs and decreasing the efficiency of subsequent foraging attempts. Depletion of the insulative blubber layer may also increase thermoregulatory costs, which will decrease the foraging abilities through higher metabolic overheads. Thus, an energy deficit may lead to a downward spiral of increased tissue catabolism to pay for increased energy costs. Conversely, the heat generated through digestion and foraging activity may help to offset thermoregulatory costs. Finally, the circulatory demands of diving, thermoregulation and digestion may be mutually incompatible. This may force animals to alter time budgets to balance these exclusive demands. Analysis of these interacting processes will lead to a greater understanding of the physiological constraints within which the foraging behaviour must operate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2151-2168
Number of pages18
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences
Volume362
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2007

Keywords

  • digestion
  • thermoregulation
  • foraging
  • diving
  • marine mammals
  • bioenergetics
  • STELLER SEA LIONS
  • ANTARCTIC FUR SEALS
  • NORTHERN ELEPHANT SEAL
  • BOTTLE-NOSED DOLPHINS
  • MIROUNGA-ANGUSTIROSTRIS PUPS
  • MUSKRATS ONDATRA-ZIBETHICUS
  • DIVING WEDDELL SEALS
  • EUMETOPIAS-JUBATUS
  • BODY-TEMPERATURE
  • HEAT INCREMENT

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