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Population demographics of New Zealand fur seals (Arctocephalus forsteri)

posted on 2023-01-11, 13:19 authored by Jane McKenzie
Assessment of trophic interactions between increasing populations of New Zealand fur seals (Arctocephalus forsteri) and fisheries in southern Australia is limited due to a lack of species specific demographic data and an understanding of the factors influencing population growth. To establish species specific demographic parameters a cross-sectional sample of New Zealand fur seal females (330) and males (100) were caught and individually-marked on Kangaroo Island, South Australia between 2000 and 2003. The seals were aged through examination of a postcanine tooth, which was removed from each animal to investigate age-specific life-history parameters. Annual formation of cementum layers was confirmed and accuracy in age estimation was determined by examination of teeth removed from individuals of known-age.Indirect methods of assessing reproductive maturity based on mammary teat characteristics indicated that females first gave birth between 4-8 years of age, with an average age at reproductive maturity of 5 years. Among reproductively mature females, age-specific reproductive rates increased rapidly between 4-7 years of age, reaching maximum rates of 70-81% between 8-13 years, and gradually decreased in older females. No females older than 22 years were recorded to pup. Age of first territory tenure in males ranged from 8-10 years. The oldest female and male were 25 and 19 years old, respectively. Post-weaning growth in females was monophasic, characterised by high growth rates in length and mass during the juvenile growth stage, followed by a gradual decline in growth rates after reproductive maturity.In contrast, growth in males was biphasic and displayed a secondary growth spurt in both length and mass, which coincided with sexual and social maturation, followed by a rapid decline in growth rates. Age-specific survival rates were high (0.823-0.953) among prime-age females (8-13yrs of age) and declined in older females. Relative change in annual pup production was strongly correlated with reproductive rates of prime-age females and adult female survival between breeding seasons.


Center or Department

Zoology Dept. Sea Mammal Ecology Group. School of Life Sciences.

Awarding institution

La Trobe University

Year Awarded


Rights Statement

McKenzie, Jane. I hereby grant to the La Trobe University. or its agents a non exclusive right to reproduce in the University Libraries archives and to communicate my thesis or dissertation in whole or in part and in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. I retain all proprietary rights, such as copyright and patent rights. I also retain the right to use in future works (such as articles or books) all or part of this thesis or dissertation.

Data source

arrow migration 2023-01-10 00:15. Ref: latrobe:19643 (9e0739)