Behavioral adaptations of harbour seal mothers and pups to an amphibious lifestyle

Lawson, John W. (1983) Behavioral adaptations of harbour seal mothers and pups to an amphibious lifestyle. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

Prolonged observation from unusually close range provided data on interactions between mother and pup Harbour seals, Phoca vitulina concolour, on Miquelon (45゚ 45' N, 56゚ 14' W) located 19 kilometers southeast of Newfoundland, Canada. Records of intrapair distance changes, nursing bouts, responses to pup vocalizations, nose-to-nose contacts, haul-outs and exits from the nursery and emergences and submergences were analyzed quantitatively to ascertain the contributions of the mother and her pup to the maintainance and eventual dissipation of the nurturant relationship. Both animals exhibit behavioural adaptations which reduce the risk of separation arising from their amphibious lifestyle and the extreme precocity of the pups. The pups remain with their mothers constantly as a result of a specific predisposition to follow which seems to develop soon after birth. The mothers also establish a specific bond to their pups and modify their behaviour such that they are most attentive to the pups when in the water and during periods of major disturbance. This attentiveness decreases prior to weaning as the mothers show fewer nursing initiations and more frequent rejections of pups' nursing solicitations.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/4088
Item ID: 4088
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 86-90.
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Biology
Date: 1983
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Saint Pierre and Miquelon--Miquelon
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Harbor seal; Seals (Animals)

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