Rev. biol. mar. oceanogr. 48(1): 155-163



Comparison of behavioral patterns of South American sea lions between breeding and non-breeding seasons

M. José Pérez-Alvarez1,2,3, Pablo Carrasco4, Maritza Sepúlveda2,3 and Renato A. Quiñones4

1Instituto de Ecología y Biodiversidad (IEB), Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Chile, Las Palmeras 3425, Ñuñoa, Santiago, Chile
2Centro de Investigación Eutropia, Ahumada 131 Oficina 912, Santiago, Chile
3Centro de Investigación y Gestión en Recursos Naturales (CIGREN), Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Valparaíso, Av. Gran Bretaña 1111, Playa Ancha, Valparaíso, Chile
4Programa de Investigación Marina de Excelencia (PIMEX), Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Oceanográficas, Universidad de Concepción, Casilla 160-C, Concepción, Chile

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In a polygynous mating system males and females have different reproductive strategies; so it is expectable that both sexes have evolved different reproductive behavioral responses to maximize their reproductive success. We analyze the behavior of different sex/age classes of Otaria flavescens during breeding (BS) and non-breeding seasons (NBS) at a Nature Sanctuary breeding colony, central Chilean coast. From May 2008 to December 2009 data of males, females, juveniles and pups were recorded. Males performed more aggression, locomotion and recognizing behaviors during the BS, while they mostly rested during the NBS. Females and juveniles performed more recognizing behavior in the NBS, while the other behavior categories did not show differences between the NBS and the BS. As reproductive behavioral strategies, male aggression and maternal care may increase the overall population viability. This study contributed to a better understanding of the reproductive behavior patterns of this species based on what is to our knowledge the most continuous monitoring of a South American sea lion breeding colony. Since the study has been undertaken in a Nature Sanctuary, the results may be used as a baseline to compare with behavioral data from colonies perturbed by human activities.

Key words:   Polygynous mating system, reproductive behavior, otariids, Otaria flavescens, Chile