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Estimation of body mass in the southern elephant seal, Mirounga leonina, by photogrammetry and morphometrics

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 10:51 authored by Bell, CM, Mark HindellMark Hindell, Burton, HR
A simple photographic technique was developed to indirectly estimate body mass data for southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina) cows (postlactation), yearlings, and immature males and females. Regressions of mass on both photographic and morphometric variables (together and separately) yielded useful, predictable models. Using such variables, the best estimation of the actual mass was for postlactation cows, with a 95% confidence interval of ± 2.66% of the predicted body mass. Although combining photographic and morphometric variables produced the most reliable models specifically for cows and yearlings, the most practical model contained only the morphometric variables length and girth squared. Side area was the best correlated single photographic variable and this corresponded with other studies. Photogrammetry could be useful when animals cannot be sedated and are located on a flat surface, but it does require animals to be motionless when approached. Thus, the procedure may be more suited to bulls rather than other age classes and could have a role in studies where large numbers of mass estimations are rapidly required. If sedation is utilized in smaller animals, then the use of body length and girth is the most suitable indirect mass estimation technique to avoid the use of heavy weighing equipment.


Publication title

Marine Mammal Science










School of Natural Sciences


Society for Marine Mammalogy

Place of publication

1041 New Hampshire St, Lawrence, USA, Ks, 66044

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems

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