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Significance of Wounding to Female Reproductive Success in Hawaiian Monk Seals

March 15, 1993

We studied reproductive rate, length of lactation period, pup survival, and mortality of injured and uninjured female Hawaiian monk seals on Laysan Island, northwestern Hawaiian Islands, in 1983 – 1989.

The severity and timing of nonfatal injuries were influential in determining their effect on female reproductive success. There was a tendency towards a shorter mean lactation period and lower survival rate of pups for females with major injuries than for uninjured females.

Females with minor injuries were similar to uninjured females in terms of reproductive rate, length of lactation, and pup survival. For females injured shortly before the birth of their pup or during lactation, pup survival was lower than for uninjured females, whereas for females injured during the year prior to pupping, measures of reproductive success were not significantly different from those for uninjured females. Immature (aged 4 – 8 years) females entering the reproductive population were injured by adult male seals significantly more often than females aged 0 – 3 years, but at a similar rate to adult females.

The major effect of injuries on female reproductive success is an increase in female mortality: 87.5 % of the adult females (n = 16) that died on Laysan Island in 1983 – 1989 sustained injuries from adult male seals.

Hiruki LM, Stirling I, Gilmartin WG, Johanos TC, Becker BL. 1993. Significance of wounding to female reproductive success in Hawaiian monk seals (Monachus schauinslandi) at Laysan Island. Canadian Journal of Zoology 71: 469-47.

Last updated by Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center on 12/07/2021