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dc.contributor.advisorDawson, Steve
dc.contributor.advisorSlooten, Liz
dc.contributor.advisorFletcher, David
dc.contributor.authorChilderhouse, Simon John
dc.identifier.citationChilderhouse, S. J. (2008). Conservation biology of New Zealand Sea Lions (Phocarctos hookeri) (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy). Retrieved from
dc.descriptionFormat: xvi, 197 leaves : ill., maps ; 30 cm.en_NZ
dc.description.abstractNew Zealand sea lion (Phocarctos hookeri) is a pinniped endemic to New Zealand and is among the rarest of sea lion species. New Zealand sea lions are incidentally caught in the trawl fishery for squid around the Auckland Islands, and a sea lion catch-limit or Fishing Related Mortality Limit (FRML) is used to manage this interaction. Since 2003 such limits have been calculated using an age-structured Bayesian population model. One problem with this approach is that several key demographic parameters have had to be assumed, or are based on very few data. Archaeological and other historical records demonstrate that New Zealand sea lions were substantially more widespread before the arrival of humans to New Zealand than they are today (Chapter 2 published as Childerhouse & Gales 1998). The present population size is clearly reduced, with subsistence and commercial hunting the most likely cause of historical changes in distribution and abundance. Campbell Island, the only significant breeding site outside the Auckland Islands, was thoroughly surveyed for New Zealand sea lions for the first time in 2003. An estimated 385 pups were born there, comprising 13% of the total pup production for the species for 2003 (Chapter 3 published as Childerhouse et al. 2005). This thesis provides the first robust estimates of several demographic parameters for New Zealand sea lions. These data were gained via the capture, tagging and ageing of 865 individual females, which had come ashore to pup between 1999 and 2001. This research was underpinned by the development of a novel and robust ageing technique for live New Zealand sea lions (Chapter 5 published as Childerhouse et al. 2004). Chapters 6, 7 and 8 used analyses of the age structure of these females, and of subsequent resightings of them, and of known-age females between 1998 and 2005, provided the first estimates of individual growth, mean reproductive rate (0.67, SE = 0.01), mean adult survival (0.81, SE = 0.04), and maximum age (28 years) for females. These data show that New Zealand sea lions are among the slowest growing, slowest reproducing, and longest lived sea lion species. Significant differences in the age structure of the two largest breeding colonies highlight flawed assumptions of the current management approach. The application of this new demographic information has the potential to significantly alter the existing management advice relating to the setting of FRMLs and the impact of the squid fishery on the New Zealand sea lion population. Taken alone, these results suggest a dim outlook for an already threatened species. In the context that pup production is in significant decline (e.g. 32% since 1998 Chilvers et al. 2007), the species' foraging environment is thought to be marginal (Costa & Gales 2000), and that resource competition may also be impacting on the population (Chapter 4 published as Childerhouse et al. 2001a), the picture darkens further. Taken as a whole, these data suggest that current management is insufficient to ensure population stasis, let alone meet the Government's statutory goal of recovery.en_NZ
dc.titleConservation biology of New Zealand Sea Lions (Phocarctos hookeri)en_NZ
dc.typeThesisen_NZ Scienceen_NZ of Philosophyen_NZ Universityen_NZ
otago.openaccessAbstract Onlyen_NZ
dc.rights.statementDigital copy stored under Section 55 of the NZ Copyright Act.
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