Modeling the energetics of Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) along the Oregon Coast Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/wd3761431

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  • A dynamic bioenergetic model for Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) was built using the STELLA simulation modeling system. The model is intended as an aid for the exploration of ecological questions regarding growth and survival of immature Steller sea lions (ages 1-3) living along the Oregon coast under different nutritional scenarios. The ultimate goals were: 1) to identify features of the Oregon ecosystem that could contribute to the growth of the Steller sea lion population in contrast to the declining population in Alaska and 2) to provide a basis for examining the various hypotheses that have been put forward regarding the causes of the Steller sea lion decline in Alaska. The dynamic energetic model was composed of coupled submodels, created or adapted from the literature, that describe the energetic inputs and outputs of the animal. It is a mechanistic model based on biological principles that attempts to describe the connections and feedbacks between the different components and the allocation of energy to them under suboptimal nutrition. The model predicted that both changes in prey abundance and quality would have a more pronounced effect in one-year-old animals than in two- and three-year-old sea lions. A reduction in prey density could delay the attainment of sexual maturity, and this could have a significant negative effect on the population rate of increase. The seasonal migration of Pacific whiting was shown to be very important as a biomass influx into the system. In general, the model predictions were consistent with observations on the declining population of Steller sea lions in Alaska.
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