Increases in ocean temperature are associated with changes in the distribution of fish stocks, and the foraging regimes and maternal attendance patterns of marine mammals. However, it is not well understood how these changes affect offspring health and survival. The maternal attendance patterns and immunity of South American fur seals were assessed in a rookery where hookworm disease is the main cause of pup mortality. Pups receiving higher levels of maternal attendance had a positive energy balance and a more reactive immune system. These pups were able to expel hookworms through a specific immune mediated mechanism and survived the infection. Maternal attendance was higher in years with low sea surface temperature, therefore, the mean hookworm burden and mortality increased with sea surface temperature over a 10-year period. We provide a mechanistic explanation regarding how changes in ocean temperature and maternal care affect infectious diseases dynamics in a marine mammal.
All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and/or uploaded as supplementary materials
- Mauricio Seguel
- Mauricio Seguel
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: The experiments described in this manuscript were conducted with approval of the Chilean fisheries service and the University of Georgia animal use committee (IACUC #A2013 11-004-Y3-A0).
- Christian Rutz, University of St Andrews, United Kingdom
© 2018, Seguel et al.
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