Intrinsic and extrinsic influences on standard metabolic rates of three species of Australian otariid

Monique A. Ladds*, David J. Slip, Robert G. Harcourt

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)
    88 Downloads (Pure)


    The study of marine mammal energetics can shed light on how these animals might adapt to changing environments. Their physiological potential to adapt will be influenced by extrinsic factors, such as temperature, and by intrinsic factors, such as sex and reproduction. We measured the standard metabolic rate (SMR) of males and females of three Australian otariid species (two Australian fur seals, three New Zealand fur seals and seven Australian sea lions). Mean SMR ranged from 0.47 to 1.05 l O2 min-1, which when adjusted for mass was from 5.33 to 7.44 ml O2 min-1 kg-1. We found that Australian sea lion mass-specific SMR (sSMR; in millilitres of oxygen per minute per kilogram) varied little in response to time of year or moult, but was significantly influenced by sex and water temperature. Likewise, sSMR of Australian and New Zealand fur seals was also influenced by sex and water temperature, but also by time of year (pre-moult, moult or post-moult). During the moult, fur seals had significantly higher sSMR than at other times of the year, whereas there was no discernible effect of moult for sea lions. For both groups, females had higher sSMR than males, but sea lions and fur seals showed different responses to changes in water temperature. The sSMR of fur seals increased with increasing water temperature, whereas sSMR of sea lions decreased with increasing water temperature. There were no species differences when comparing animals of the same sex. Our study suggests that fur seals have more flexibility in their physiology than sea lions, perhaps implying that they will be more resilient in a changing environment.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbercow074
    Pages (from-to)1-14
    Number of pages14
    JournalConservation Physiology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2017

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2017. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • metabolic rate
    • otariid
    • sex
    • water temperature


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