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Castellini, MA, Kooyman GL, Ponganis PJ.  1992.  Metabolic rates of freely diving Weddell seals: correlations with oxygen stores, swim velocity and diving duration. Journal of Experimental Biology. 165:181-194. AbstractWebsite

The metabolic rates of freely diving Weddell seals were measured using modern methods of on-line computer analysis coupled to oxygen consumption instrumentation. Oxygen consumption values were collected during sleep, resting periods while awake and during diving periods with the seals breathing at the surface of the water in an experimental sea-ice hole in Antarctica. Oxygen consumption during diving was not elevated over resting values but was statistically about 1.5 times greater than sleeping values. The metabolic rate of diving declined with increasing dive duration, but there was no significant difference between resting rates and rates in dives lasting up to 82 min. Swimming speed, measured with a microprocessor velocity recorder, was constant in each animal. Calculations of the aerobic dive limit of these seals were made from the oxygen consumption values and demonstrated that most dives were within this theoretical limit. The results indicate that the cost of diving is remarkably low in Weddell seals relative to other diving mammals and birds.

Cristofari, R, Bertorelle G, Ancel A, Benazzo A, Lemaho Y, Ponganis PJ, Stenseth NC, Trathan PN, Whittington JD, Zanetti E, Zitterbart DP, Le Bohec C, Trucchi E.  2016.  Full circumpolar migration ensures evolutionary unity in the Emperor penguin. Nature Communications. 7   10.1038/ncomms11842   AbstractWebsite

Defining reliable demographic models is essential to understand the threats of ongoing environmental change. Yet, in the most remote and threatened areas, models are often based on the survey of a single population, assuming stationarity and independence in population responses. This is the case for the Emperor penguin Aptenodytes forsteri, a flagship Antarctic species that may be at high risk continent-wide before 2100. Here, using genome-wide data from the whole Antarctic continent, we reveal that this top-predator is organized as one single global population with a shared demography since the late Quaternary. We refute the view of the local population as a relevant demographic unit, and highlight that (i) robust extinction risk estimations are only possible by including dispersal rates and (ii) colony-scaled population size is rather indicative of local stochastic events, whereas the species' response to global environmental change is likely to follow a shared evolutionary trajectory.

Crognale, MA, Levenson DH, Ponganis PJ, Deegan JF, Jacobs GH.  1998.  Cone spectral sensitivity in the harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) and implications for color vision. Canadian Journal of Zoology-Revue Canadienne De Zoologie. 76:2114-2118.   10.1139/cjz-76-11-2114   AbstractWebsite

The retinas of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) contain two morphologically distinct photoreceptor types: rods and cones. The spectral properties of the cones have not been previously studied. The spectral sensitivities of the cones of harbor seals were measured using a retinal gross potential technique, flicker photometric electroretinography. We found a cone spectral sensitivity curve with a peak at about 510 nm. The shape of the spectral sensitivity curve remained invariant despite large changes in chromatic adaptation, implying that harbor seals have only a single cone photopigment. This means that harbor seals must lack color vision at photopic light levels. Any color discrimination in this species would have to be based on combined input from rods and cones and thus restricted to mesopic light levels. The spectral sensitivity of the cone pigment in the harbor seal is shifted to shorter wavelengths than those of terrestrial carnivores, consistent with adaptation to the aquatic photic environment.