Title

Sex and age differences in thermoregulatory sand-flipping in northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) in their Piedras Blancas breeding colony

Poster Number

12

Lead Author Major

Biological Sciences

Format

Poster Presentation

Faculty Mentor Name

Richard Tenaza

Faculty Mentor Department

Biological Sciences

Abstract/Artist Statement

Elephant seals lying belly-down on beaches habitually use their front or pectoral flippers to scoop sand from the beach ant throw it onto their backs. One study indicated that this behavior is thermoregulatory: allowing moisture evaporating from the sand cooling the seal’s skin. This is the first study of sex and age differences concerning this behavior. We gathered data in two ways. in January 2010 we made video recordings of sections of the seal colony and later tallied sand flipping from them back in the laboratory. In January 2011 we gathered data by assigning students in Dr. Tenaza’s Animal Behavior and Marine Birds & Mammals classes to observe one adult male, one adult female, and one pup each to tally. In total, 45 students counted sand flipping of three animals each for 150 minutes. Adult females consistently performed the behavior significantly more frequently than males and pups did, and all animals performed more sand flipping in the afternoon and under direct sunlight than they did in the morning and under overcast skies. We discuss our findings in terms of color and surface: volume ratios.

Location

DeRosa University Center, Ballroom

Start Date

21-4-2011 6:00 PM

End Date

21-4-2011 8:00 PM

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Apr 21st, 6:00 PM Apr 21st, 8:00 PM

Sex and age differences in thermoregulatory sand-flipping in northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) in their Piedras Blancas breeding colony

DeRosa University Center, Ballroom

Elephant seals lying belly-down on beaches habitually use their front or pectoral flippers to scoop sand from the beach ant throw it onto their backs. One study indicated that this behavior is thermoregulatory: allowing moisture evaporating from the sand cooling the seal’s skin. This is the first study of sex and age differences concerning this behavior. We gathered data in two ways. in January 2010 we made video recordings of sections of the seal colony and later tallied sand flipping from them back in the laboratory. In January 2011 we gathered data by assigning students in Dr. Tenaza’s Animal Behavior and Marine Birds & Mammals classes to observe one adult male, one adult female, and one pup each to tally. In total, 45 students counted sand flipping of three animals each for 150 minutes. Adult females consistently performed the behavior significantly more frequently than males and pups did, and all animals performed more sand flipping in the afternoon and under direct sunlight than they did in the morning and under overcast skies. We discuss our findings in terms of color and surface: volume ratios.