The diet of Otaria flavescens in Chile: What do we know?

The diet of Otaria flavescens in Chile: What do we know?

L.A. Hückstädt, and T. Antezana

The diet of Otaria flavescens in Chile: What do we know?This is part of Sea Lions of the World
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Description

The southern sea lion Otaria flavescens has been described as a generalist and opportunistic predator; however, few studies have been conducted in Chilean waters focusing on diet. Here we review information on the diet of O. flavescens along the Chilean coast. Most of the information comes from studies conducted approximately 20 years ago in south-central Chile, with one exception in northern Chile. We found that O. flavescens exhibits important dissimilarities in its diet among locations, especially between north and south-central Chile. In general, prey diversity was regionally low; hence niche breadth analysis indicated it as a specialist (as opposed to graphic analysis, which describes it as a generalist predator when data from all locations were pooled together). We concluded that
the species features plastic trophic habits with a diet determined by prey abundance at the locality and period of feeding. The results showed a slight niche overlap between small-scale fishing fleets and O. flavescens. Arica, where the referred overlap reaches 99%, proved the only exception with both sea lions and the fishery concentrating on anchovy (Engraulis ringens). Potential competition expressed as niche overlap with smallscale fisheries varied according to the regional catch level, and was less in those locations where the fishing effort was greatest.

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