Latitudinal variation in diet and patterns of human interaction in the marine otter

J. C. Mangel, T. Whitty, G. Medina-Vogel, J. Alfaro-Shigueto, C. Cáceres, B. J. Godley

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17 Scopus citations


The marine otter (Lontra felina) inhabits patches of rocky coastline from central Peru to southern Chile and is classified as Endangered by the IUCN. Given the limited information available about the species, we set out to assess marine otter diet with a view to detecting latitudinal differences, and to assess marine otter activity budgets and interspecific interactions (including anthropogenic) at Peruvian fishing villages and to compare results with similar Chilean studies. Nine study sites from central Chile to southern Peru were sampled for otter spraints to assess relative frequency of prey types and two fishing ports in southern Peru were monitored through focal and scan observations to assess activity patterns, interspecific interactions, habitat use patterns, and dive durations. Results indicate that toward the northern part of its range, crustaceans become less important and fish more important in the diet. Interactions were observed between marine otters and other species, including stray dogs and cats. The strong dependence of marine otters on the availability of safe rocky shelters, and the species' apparent tolerance to living alongside humans raise conservation concerns about vulnerability to anthropogenic threats. These factors, if not correctly managed, could turn some of these rocky seashore patches into population sinks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E14-E25
JournalMarine Mammal Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Chile
  • Human interaction
  • Latitudinal variation
  • Lontra felina
  • Marine otter
  • Peru


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