TitleEnergetics of breath-hold hunting: modeling the effects of aging on foraging success in the Weddell seal
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsHindle, AJ, Horning, M
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Volume264
Issue3
Pagination673-82
Date Published2010 Jun 7
KeywordsWeddell seal
Abstract

A simulation model was developed to predict age-related changes in foraging energetics of individual Weddell seals, Leptonychotes weddellii. Aging in diving animals is interesting because their characteristic cyclic sequence of apneustic hunting and eupnea should elevate oxidative stress, possibly accelerating aging. Such a hypothesis can be evaluated by modeling energetics of constrained, time-partitioned activities with well-defined costs. Three possible consequences of physiological aging in divers were specified and appraised. The model examined the potential impacts of age-related decline in muscle contractile ability, increased buoyancy, and reduced aerobic dive limit, alone and in combination, on a daily energy budget. A uniform age effect evident in model outputs is reduced foraging efficiency. The components of this net effect are exacerbated for sub-optimal behavioral-response settings or environmental conditions. The model predicts that with advancing age, efficiency declines increase for aging scenarios in the following order: simulated 'young' adults; 'old' seals with increased buoyancy; 'old' seals with reduced aerobic dive limit; 'old' seals having reduced muscle contractile efficiency; and, 'old' seals with all three conditions. The model indicates narrowed behavioral options to maintain positive energy balance in older animals, suggesting that behavioral plasticity may not allow older animals to compensate for age-related performance constraints.