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29 September 2015 Growth and Sexual Maturation in Male Northern Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) from Gustavus, Alaska
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Abstract

Northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) are experiencing rapid population growth and expansion in Southeast Alaska. Fluctuations in population density can produce profound changes in ecological constraints, influencing growth and sexual maturity of animals in a population, and can transform the ecology of newly populated ecosystems. Using morphometric measurements and reproductive tracts collected from 40 sea otters by an Alaska Native subsistence hunter, we evaluated growth rates and age at sexual maturity of male sea otters near Gustavus, Alaska. Standard length of mature otters (asymptotic size = 148.2 ± 2.9 cm [SE]) was greater than previous studies in Alaska. At puberty, mean seminiferous tubule diameter, baculum length, and testes mass increased abruptly at 130 cm body length. Animals in this study reached sexual maturity earlier than previous studies, at age 3–4 years. Baculum length increased rapidly at sexual maturity and was a good indication of maturity status (< 14 cm = immature). Increased body size and lower age of sexual maturity suggests resources are not limiting growth and maturation of sea otters near Gustavus, Alaska.

© 2015 American Society of Mammalogists, www.mammalogy.org
Emily Hutchinson, Shannon Atkinson, and Kathy Burek Huntington "Growth and Sexual Maturation in Male Northern Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) from Gustavus, Alaska," Journal of Mammalogy 96(5), (29 September 2015). https://doi.org/10.1093/jmammal/gyv114
Received: 15 October 2014; Accepted: 18 June 2015; Published: 29 September 2015
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