2018-2019 Science Planning Summaries
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2018-2019 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

The consequences of maternal effects and environmental conditions on offspring success in an Antarctic predator


The consequences of maternal effects and environmental conditions on offspring success in an Antarctic predator
B-009-M Research Location(s): Sea Ice

Summary

Event Number:
B-009-M
NSF/OPP Award 1640481

Program Manager:
Dr. Christian Fritsen

ASC POC/Implementer:
Jenny Cunningham / Elizabeth Kauffman


Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Jay Rotella
rotella@montana.edu
Montana State University Bozeman
Ecology
Bozeman, Montana

Project Web Site:
http://www.montana.edu/weddellseals


Location

Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: Sea Ice


Description

The consequences of variation in maternal effects on the ability of offspring to survive, reproduce, and contribute to future generations has rarely been evaluated in polar marine mammals. This is because of the challenges of having adequate data on the survival and reproductive outcomes for numerous offspring born in diverse environmental conditions to mothers with known and diverse sets of traits. This project will evaluate the survival and reproductive consequences of early-life environmental conditions and variation in offspring traits that are related to maternal attributes (e.g. birth date, birth mass, weaning mass, and swimming behavior) in a population of individually marked Weddell seals in the Ross Sea.


Field Season Overview

Researchers will work out of a field camp at Big Razorback Island and will focus on all pupping colonies and haul outs from Cape Evans to Pram Point, at White Island, Marble Point, and Lewis Bay. They will visit each colony every other day to find, tag, and weigh newborn pups. Pups will be located two more times during maturation for re-weighing. Researchers plan to sample 150 pups each year. The team will also conduct six to eight surveys per season throughout the study area to re-sight tagged individuals, tag unmarked animals, and replace broken or missing tags. Reconnaissance flights will be by helicopter; travel between sites will be by snowmobile.


Deploying Team Members

  • Alissa Anderson
  • Jesse DeVoe
  • William Link
  • Kaitlin Macdonald
  • Shane Petch
  • Jay Rotella (PI)