Hormone-mediated foraging strategies in an uncertain environment: Insights into the at-sea behavior of a marine predator

Eugene J. DeRango, Jonas F.L. Schwarz, Paolo Piedrahita, Diego Páez-Rosas, Daniel E. Crocker, Oliver Krüger

Producción científica: Contribución a una revistaArtículorevisión exhaustiva

3 Citas (Scopus)


Hormones are extensively known to be physiological mediators of energy mobilization and allow animals to adjust behavioral performance in response to their environment, especially within a foraging context. Few studies, however, have narrowed focus toward the consistency of hormonal patterns and their impact on individual foraging behavior. Describing these relationships can further our understanding of how individuals cope with heterogeneous environments and exploit different ecological niches. To address this, we measured between- and within-individual variation of basal cortisol (CORT), thyroid hormone T3, and testosterone (TEST) levels in wild adult female Galápagos sea lions (Zalophus wollebaeki) and analyzed how these hormones may be associated with foraging strategies. In this marine predator, females exhibit one of three spatially and temporally distinct foraging patterns (i.e., “benthic,” “pelagic,” and “night” divers) within diverse habitat types. Night divers differentiated from other strategies by having lower T3 levels. Considering metabolic costs, night divers may represent an energetically conservative strategy with shorter dive durations, depths, and descent rates to exploit prey which migrate up the water column based on vertical diel patterns. Intriguingly, CORT and TEST levels were highest in benthic divers, a strategy characterized by congregating around limited, shallow seafloors to specialize on confined yet reliable prey. This pattern may reflect hormone-mediated behavioral responses to specific risks in these habitats, such as high competition with conspecifics, prey predictability, or greater risks of predation. Overall, our study highlights the collective effects of hormonal and ecological variation on marine foraging. In doing so, we provide insights into how mechanistic constraints and environmental pressures may facilitate individual specialization in adaptive behavior in wild populations.

Idioma originalInglés
Páginas (desde-hasta)7579-7590
Número de páginas12
PublicaciónEcology and Evolution
EstadoPublicada - jun. 2021


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