Study Group of Aquatic Mammals of Rio Grande do Sul GEMARS

Porto Alegre, Brazil

Study Group of Aquatic Mammals of Rio Grande do Sul GEMARS

Porto Alegre, Brazil
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Vighi M.,University of Barcelona | Borrell A.,University of Barcelona | Crespo E.A.,CONICET | Oliveira L.R.,University of the Rio dos Sinos Valley | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

From the early 17th century to the 1970s southern right whales, Eubalaena australis, were subject to intense exploitation along the Atlantic coast of South America. Catches along this coast recorded by whalers originally formed a continuum from Brazil to Tierra del Fuego. Nevertheless, the recovery of the population has apparently occurred fragmentarily, and with two main areas of concentration, one off southern Brazil (Santa Catarina) and another off central Argentina (Peninsula Valdés). This pattern suggests some level of heterogeneity amongst the population, which is apparently contradicted by records that traced individuals moving throughout the whole geographical extension covered by the species in the Southwest Atlantic. To test the hypothesis of the potential occurrence of discrete subpopulations exploiting specific habitats, we investigated N, C and O isotopic values in 125 bone samples obtained from whaling factories operating in the early 1970s in southern Brazil (n = 72) and from contemporary and more recent strandings occurring in central Argentina (n = 53). Results indicated significant differences between the two sampling areas, being d 13C and d18O values significantly higher in samples from southern Brazil than in those from central Argentina. This variation was consistent with isotopic baselines from the two areas, indicating the occurrence of some level of structure in the Southwest Atlantic right whale population and equally that whales more likely feed in areas commonly thought to exclusively serve as nursing grounds. Results aim at reconsidering of the units currently used in the management of the southern right whale in the Southwest Atlantic Ocean. In the context of the current die-off affecting the species in Peninsula Valdés, these results also highlight the necessity to better understand movements of individuals and precisely identify their feeding areas. © 2014 Vighi et al.

Zenteno L.,University of Barcelona | Crespo E.,CONICET | Crespo E.,National University of Patagonia | Goodall N.,Museo Acatushun de Aves y Mamiferos Marinos Australes | And 8 more authors.
Journal of Zoology | Year: 2013

Stable isotopes of oxygen have been widely used to reconstruct paleotemperatures and to investigate the thermal environment of fishes and mollusks, but they have only occasionally been used as geographical markers in marine systems. As bone apatite grows at a constant temperature in marine mammals and food is the major source of water for these animals, particularly for pinnipeds, variations in the ratio of stable isotopes of oxygen (δ18O) of bone apatite will likely reflect changes in the δ18O values of diet, and thus of the surrounding water mass, despite the potential confounding role of factors as the proximate composition of diet, sex and body size. Here, we used the δ18O values in bone apatite to investigate whether adult males of South American sea lion (Otaria byronia), from three regions in southwestern Atlantic Ocean (Brazil, Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego in Argentina), used the same water masses to forage and whether differences exist in the water masses used by sea lions differing according to sex and developmental stage. Statistically significant differences were observed among the δ18O bone values of adult males from the three regions, with those from Patagonia more enriched in 18O, as expected from the δ18Oseawater values. These results revealed restricted dispersal movements of adult males between the three areas. On the other hand, adult males and females from Patagonia did not differ in average δ18Obone values, thus indicating the use of foraging grounds within the same water mass. Finally, the variability in the δ18Obone values of young of both sexes was much wider than the adults of the same sex from the same region, which suggests the existence of a juvenile dispersal phase in both sexes, although much shorter in females than in males. These results confirm the usefulness of stable isotopes of oxygen as habitats tracers in marine mammals. © 2013 The Zoological Society of London.

Zenteno L.,University of Barcelona | Crespo E.,CONICET | Vales D.,CONICET | Silva L.,CONICET | And 6 more authors.
Marine Biology | Year: 2014

Marine predators may undergo remarkable dietary changes through time as a result of both anthropogenic and natural changes in the environment, but this variability is often difficult to tackle and seldom incorporated into ecosystem models. This paper uses the stable isotope ratios of carbon and nitrogen in skeletal material of South American sea lions from Brazilian scientific collections to investigate whether these animals modified their diet from 1986 to 2009, as reported for other marine predators in the region. Stable isotope ratios indicated that demersal potential prey were always enriched in 13C as compared with pelagic prey. Accordingly, the absence of any statistically significant correlation between stranding year and the δ13C values of adult males indicated no major increase in the consumption of pelagic prey from 1986 to 2009. Likewise, the results of the mixing model SIAR revealed a mixed diet including pelagic and demersal prey, with a central role for demersal fishes throughout the whole period. Furthermore, SIAR suggested no major changes in the proportion of pelagic and demersal prey in the diet of adult male South American sea lions during the past three decades. Demersal fishes were also relevant prey for juvenile South American sea lions during the whole period, but they always consumed a larger proportion of pelagic prey than the adults did. These results suggest no major changes in the diet of male South American sea lions during the past three decades in southern Brazil, contrary to what has been reported for other to predators in the regions and for the species in northern Patagonia. © 2014, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

Drago M.,University of the Republic of Uruguay | Franco-Trecu V.,University of the Republic of Uruguay | Zenteno L.,University of Barcelona | Szteren D.,University of the Republic of Uruguay | And 8 more authors.
Marine Ecology Progress Series | Year: 2015

Stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes in skin and bone of South American sea lions from Brazil and Uruguay were analysed to test the hypothesis that trophic overlap between the sexes is lower during the pre-breeding season than throughout the rest of the year. The isotopic values of skin and bone were used to infer the trophic relationships between the sexes during the pre-breeding period and year round, respectively. Prey species were also analysed to establish a baseline necessary for interpreting the stable isotope ratios of skin and bone. Standard ellipse areas, estimated using Bayesian inference in the SIBER routine of the SIAR package in R, suggested that males and females used a wide diversity of foraging strategies throughout the year and that no differences existed between the sexes. However, the diversity of foraging strategies was largely reduced during the pre-breeding period, with all the individuals of each sex adopting similar strategies, but with the two sexes differing considerably in stable isotope values and the ellipse areas of males and females not overlapping at all. Nevertheless, the results revealed a general increase in the consumption of pelagic prey by both sexes during the pre-breeding period. The progressive crowding of individuals in the areas surrounding the breeding rookeries during the pre-breeding period could lead to an increase in the local population density, which could explain the above reported changes. © Inter-Research 2015 ·

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