My research this past quarter has focused on fine scale site fidelity of northern elephant seals at Año Nuevo State Park. The abstract is below.
Fine scale site fidelity is an important marker in animal behavior as it sets the geographic limits of an individual’s social interaction space. Since fine scale site fidelity can set the context for behavioral population structure and interactions, it has the potential to be the building block for a stable population. While fine scale site fidelity research has been conducted on southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina), a review of current literature reveals no data for the northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris).
In this project, GPS coordinates were obtained for male northern elephant seals over the course of the 2015-2016 breeding season. Using geospatial analysis, home ranges were constructed using kernel density estimates. There were significant differences found between adult and sub-adult home ranges. Adult home ranges were found to have a high degree of variability. As animals got older, their home ranges decreased in overall size.