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Re: J Mammalogy

Subject: Re: J Mammalogy
From: Brian Mitchell <>
Date: Wed, 11 Jun 2003 10:45:54 -0700
 Phillips, Alana V. Behavioral cues used in reunions between mother and
 pup South American fur seals (Arctocephalus australis).  Journal of
 Mammalogy 84(2):524-535.
 In South American fur seals (Arctocephalus australis) breeding in
 dense colonies at Punta San Juan, Peru, mothers are regularly
 separated from pups when they forage at sea throughout lactation and
 as a result of disturbances among females during on-beach nursing
 periods. Unattended pups risk injury or death from aggressive females
 and predatory sea lions, so the ability of mothers and pups to
 recognize and reunite is an essential component of breeding success. I
 investigated the relative importance of vocal, visual, olfactory, and
 spatial cues in the reunion process and examined how these behaviors
 are related to search context and success. Behavior of 10 tagged
 mother-pup pairs was recorded during 118 searches, 67% of which
 resulted in reunion. Mothers and pups appeared to recognize one
 another by vocal signatures over distance, and mothers used naso-nasal
 investigation before accepting or rejecting pups. Mothers supplemented
 their calling behavior with a variety of low-cost strategies such as
 frequenting a consistent "home spot"(76%), moving about the colony
 (49%), and investigating approaching pups (42%), but the best
 predictor of search success was pup response: after pups called and
 moved toward mothers, pairs were reunited 95% of the time regardless
 of mothers' behavior. Pups responded infrequently (18%) to the wrong
 female, suggesting that pups' acceptance criteria are conservative
 when risk of injury from unrelated females is high.
 Brian R. Mitchell
 Ph.D. Candidate
 University of California, Berkeley
 Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management

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