Maternal Energy Allocation in a Capital Breeder: The Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus)
Parental allocation animals is largely in the form of maternal allocation. In mammals, lactation accounts for the largest proportion of maternal allocation. Lactation is the most energetically costly aspect of reproduction in female mammals. To support the energetic costs of lactation, mammals have developed different strategies related to feeding during the breeding period. Among those strategies, capital breeding mammals exploit the ability to store nutrients and resources to fuel milk production and fast or reduce feeding during most or all the lactation period. As such, the degree of maternal energy allocation can be measured through maternal mass loss. Phocids include some of the most extreme capital breeding mammals. This study examined the predictors and consequences of multiple elements of maternal energy allocation in a capital breeding phocid: the grey seal (Halichoerus grypus). I analyzed maternal and pup characteristics from 222 females as possible predictors of total maternal mass loss.