Science Spotlight

The period of maternal investment in Steller sea lions is the most energetically demanding, and is a critical period for adequate food intake in both mothers and their dependent pups. Disruptions in securing adequate energy during this period have direct consequences to reproductive success of both females and pups, ultimately impacting population levels. Unfortunately, little is known about the energetics of this period in Steller sea lions. To investigate the role adult female’s energetic requirements surrounding maternal investment plays in population trends, the Alaska SeaLife Center Marine Mammal Research team has joined with Dr. Rosen, a scientist out of Vancouver Aquarium, to investigate the energetic requirements of pregnancy and lactation by calculating a resting metabolic rate in adult females and their offspring.   This study will determine the costs of gestation, lactation, and growth by measuring the metabolism, energy intake, and morphology of pregnant and lactating Steller sea lions and their pups. The resulting information will inform bioenergetic models that will help define the potential effects of changes in the environment on Steller sea lion population trajectories

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