Skip to main content

Australian fur seal foraging consistency data

Cite this dataset

Speakman, Cassie et al. (2022). Australian fur seal foraging consistency data [Dataset]. Dryad.


Substantial variation in foraging strategies can exist within populations, even those typically regarded as generalists. Specialisations arise from the consistent exploitation of a narrow behavioural, spatial or dietary niche over time, which may reduce intra-specific competition and influence adaptability to environmental change. However, few studies have investigated whether behavioural consistency confers benefits at the individual and/or population level. While still recovering from commercial sealing over-exploitation, Australian fur seals (AUFS; Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus) represent the largest marine predator biomass in south-eastern Australia. During lactation, female AUFS adopt a central-place foraging strategy and are, thus, vulnerable to changes in prey availability. The present study investigated the population-level repeatability and individual consistency in foraging behaviour of 34 lactating female AUFS at a south-east Australian breeding colony between 2006 and 2019. Additionally, the influence of individual-level behavioural consistency on indices of foraging success and efficiency during benthic diving was determined. Low to moderate population-level repeatability was observed across foraging behaviours, with the greatest repeatability in the mean bearing and modal dive depth. Individual-level consistency was greatest for the proportion of benthic diving, total distance travelled and trip duration. Indices of benthic foraging success and efficiency were positively influenced by consistency in the proportion of benthic diving, trip duration and dive rate but not influenced by consistency in bearing to most distal point, dive depth or foraging site fidelity. The results of the present study provide evidence of the benefits of consistency for individuals, which may have flow-on effects at the population level.

Usage notes

AUFS_consistency_data.csv was used to conduct the Repeatability analyses. AUFS_CV_data.csv was used to assess the influence of individual consistency on the Foraging Trip Efficiency Index and Foraging Trip Success Index.