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.
- climate change
- fur seal
- infectious disease
- marine mammal
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)