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Elephant Seals: Population Ecology, Behavior, and Physiology

by Le Boeuf, Burney J. E Laws, Richard M.

  • ISBN: 9780520083646
  • ISBN10: 0520083644

Elephant Seals: Population Ecology, Behavior, and Physiology

by Le Boeuf, Burney J. E Laws, Richard M.

  • List Price: $65.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publish date: 06/01/1994
  • ISBN: 9780520083646
  • ISBN10: 0520083644
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Description: Elephant seals, weighing up to 2000 kilograms, are not only the largest seals but among the most impressive of all marine mammals. Brought to the brink of extinction by nineteenth-century hunters, the northern species has achieved a recovery that is unmatched by any other marine vertebrate. Elephant seals are capable of tolerating remarkable physiological extremes of nutrition, temperature, and pressure. They spend more time underwater than most whales and dive deeper and longer than any other marine mammal. Lactating females and the largest breeding males during the mating season can lose up to forty percent of their body weight through prolonged fasting. For these and other reasons, the elephant seal has been the subject of intensive study in the northern and the southern hemispheres. Elephant Seals, the first book-length discussion of the species, gathers together the research findings of scientists working along the North American coast from California to Alaska and in the circumpolar waters of the Antarctic. It documents for the first time the worldwide status of elephant seals, noting both the remarkable resurgence of the northern species and the troubling decline of certain populations in the south, which some attribute to human factors such as fishing and global warming. Among the studies discussed by the authors are those involving cutting-edge research on the seals' diving patterns, biannual migration, and foraging locations, carried out with the use of microcomputer diving instruments attached to free-ranging seals. Others include research on the life-history tactics critical to a population's success - juvenile survivorship, female and male reproductive strategies, and preyconsumed. The book concludes with an analysis of the remarkable physiological mechanisms that make possible the elephant seals' long breath-holds during diving and sleep, that set limits on foraging, and that regulate their hormones and fuel metabolism while fasting. An important and timely volume, Elephant Seals offers not only a worldwide status report on these impressive mammals but also the most comprehensive and up-to-date account of their behavioral biology. For the information it contains, for the methodological innovations it reports, and for its relevance to the debate about the human causes of species extinction, this book is essential reading for all marine mammalogists, behavioral ecologists, and managers of marine mammals.
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