Goetz Kimberly T.

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Kimberly T.

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  • Article
    Temporal changes in Weddell seal dive behavior over winter: are females increasing foraging effort to support gestation?
    (John Wiley & Sons Ltd., 2018-11-23) Shero, Michelle R. ; Goetz, Kimberly T. ; Costa, Daniel P. ; Burns, Jennifer M.
    In capital‐breeding marine mammals, prey acquisition during the foraging trip coinciding with gestation must provide energy to meet the immediate needs of the growing fetus and also a store to meet the subsequent demands of lactation. Weddell seals (Leptonychotes weddellii) that give birth following the gestational (winter) foraging period gain similar proportions of mass and lipid as compared to females that fail to give birth. Therefore, any changes in foraging behavior can be attributed to gestational costs. To investigate differences in foraging effort associated with successful reproduction, twenty‐three satellite tags were deployed on post‐molt female Weddell seals in the Ross Sea. Of the 20 females that returned to the area the following year, 12 females gave birth and eight did not. Females that gave birth the following year began the winter foraging period with significantly longer and deeper dives, as compared to non‐reproductive seals. Mid‐ to late winter, reproductive females spent a significantly greater proportion of the day diving, and either depressed their diving metabolic rates (DMR), or exceeded their calculated aerobic dive limit (cADL) more frequently than females that returned without a pup. Moreover, non‐reproductive females organized their dives into 2–3 short bouts per day on average (BOUTshort; 7.06 ± 1.29 hr; mean ± 95% CI), whereas reproductive females made 1–2 BOUTshort per day (10.9 ± 2.84 hr), comprising one long daily foraging bout without rest. The magnitude of the increase in dive activity budgets and depression in calculated DMR closely matched the estimated energetic requirements of supporting a fetus. This study is one of the first to identify increases in foraging effort that are associated with successful reproduction in a top predator and indicates that reproductive females must operate closer to their physiological limits to support gestational costs.
  • Article
    Regional variation in winter foraging strategies by Weddell Seals in Eastern Antarctica and the Ross Sea
    (Frontiers Media, 2021-09-22) Harcourt, Robert ; Hindell, Mark ; McMahon, Clive R. ; Goetz, Kimberly T. ; Charrassin, Jean-Benoit ; Heerah, Karine ; Holser, Rachel R. ; Jonsen, Ian ; Shero, Michelle R. ; Hoenner, Xavier ; Foster, Rose ; Lenting, Baukje ; Tarszisz, Esther ; Pinkerton, Matthew H.
    The relative importance of intrinsic and extrinsic determinants of animal foraging is often difficult to quantify. The most southerly breeding mammal, the Weddell seal, remains in the Antarctic pack-ice year-round. We compared Weddell seals tagged at three geographically and hydrographically distinct locations in East Antarctica (Prydz Bay, Terre Adélie, and the Ross Sea) to quantify the role of individual variability and habitat structure in winter foraging behaviour. Most Weddell seals remained in relatively small areas close to the coast throughout the winter, but some dispersed widely. Individual utilisation distributions (UDi, a measure of the total area used by an individual seal) ranged from 125 to 20,825 km2. This variability was not due to size or sex but may be due to other intrinsic states for example reproductive condition or personality. The type of foraging (benthic vs. pelagic) varied from 56.6 ± 14.9% benthic dives in Prydz Bay through 42.1 ± 9.4% Terre Adélie to only 25.1 ± 8.7% in the Ross Sea reflecting regional hydrographic structure. The probability of benthic diving was less likely the deeper the ocean. Ocean topography was also influential at the population level; seals from Terre Adélie, with its relatively narrow continental shelf, had a core (50%) UD of only 200 km2, considerably smaller than the Ross Sea (1650 km2) and Prydz Bay (1700 km2). Sea ice concentration had little influence on the time the seals spent in shallow coastal waters, but in deeper offshore water they used areas of higher ice concentration. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Ross Sea encompass all the observed Weddell seal habitat, and future MPAs that include the Antarctic continental shelf are likely to effectively protect key Weddell seal habitat.
  • Article
    Seasonal habitat preference and foraging behaviour of post-moult Weddell seals in the western Ross Sea
    (The Royal Society, 2023-01-25) Goetz, Kimberly T. ; Dinniman, Michael S. ; Hückstädt, Luis A. ; Robinson, Patrick W. ; Shero, Michelle R. ; Burns, Jennifer M. ; Hofmann, Eileen E. ; Stammerjohn, Sharon E. ; Hazen, Elliott L. ; Ainley, David G. ; Costa, Daniel P.
    Weddell seals (Leptonychotes weddellii) are important predators in the Southern Ocean and are among the best-studied pinnipeds on Earth, yet much still needs to be learned about their year-round movements and foraging behaviour. Using biologgers, we tagged 62 post-moult Weddell seals in McMurdo Sound and vicinity between 2010 and 2012. Generalized additive mixed models were used to (i) explain and predict the probability of seal presence and foraging behaviour from eight environmental variables, and (ii) examine foraging behaviour in relation to dive metrics. Foraging probability was highest in winter and lowest in summer, and foraging occurred mostly in the water column or just above the bottom; across all seasons, seals preferentially exploited the shallow banks and deeper troughs of the Ross Sea, the latter providing a pathway for Circumpolar Deep Water to flow onto the shelf. In addition, the probability of Weddell seal occurrence and foraging increased with increasing bathymetric slope and where water depth was typically less than 600 m. Although the probability of occurrence was higher closer to the shelf break, foraging was higher in areas closer to shore and over banks. This study highlights the importance of overwinter foraging for recouping body mass lost during the previous summer.