Handling intensity and the short- and long-term survival of elephant seals: Addressing and quantifying research effects on wild animals

Clive McMahon*, John Van Den Hoff, Harry Burton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study addresses the consequences of repeated human handling on the survival of an endangered phocid, the southern elephant seal and the implications for wildlife research. Southern elephant seal pups were repeatedly handled during the first six weeks of their lives. The possibility that such anthropogenic research may have altered the very parameters that were being investigated is a topical and relevant study area that we address here. Our results show that there were no measurable effects on pups that were repeatedly handled and subjected to invasive research methods with respect to survivorship in the short term (the 24-day nursing period) nor in the long term (the first year of life and beyond) and hence fitness one year after handling. In support of this conclusion we were unable to detect any significant differences in the survival rates of the most intensively handled seals and the least intensively handled seals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-429
Number of pages4
JournalAmbio
Volume34
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2005
Externally publishedYes

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