BOZEMAN — A new e-book describing Montana State University researchers’ long-term study of Weddell seals in Antarctica has been published and is available for free download via Apple Books, direct download and a PC-friendly digital edition on the Weddell Seal Science website.

Jay Rotella, professor in the Department of Ecology in MSU’s College of Letters and Science, has been conducting research on the Weddell seal populations for the past two decades. He and Professor Emeritus Robert Garrott have been conducting the project at MSU since 2002. He is the principal investigator for a phase of the research funded last year by a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation to study environmental influences on the seal populations, as well as the role immigrant seals play in the local population. The Weddell seal study is one of the longest-running marine mammal studies.

Over the past 50 years of the study, Rotella estimates that about 28,000 seals have been tagged and tracked. This has allowed researchers to understand the life cycles of Weddell seals, and by monitoring the seals, the researchers can determine the conditions of the Antarctic ecosystem itself.

Rotella said a big part of every research grant is sharing new knowledge with the public. He, Garrott and others on their research team, who were accustomed to posting blogs and podcasts from the field, came up with the idea of creating a multimedia e-book that could combine the best elements of both.

“It’s a living document that we can use and update with fresh videos and add chapters as the project goes forward,” Rotella said. “Having a living book that is fun, interactive and scientifically informative is the idea.”

The e-book, “Weddell Seals; Science, Life History and Population Dynamics,” contains information about the history of science and exploration in Antarctica, Antarctic geology and the project itself. Included are videos from the Weddell Seal Science YouTube channel, photographs from the study, diagrams of Antarctica and audio recordings of Weddell seals.

“As you go along doing these long-term studies, you can really learn some amazing things. What readers will find most important, I suspect, is going to be up to the individual,” said Rotella.

He plans to add more chapters as the team’s research progresses.

“We now have the book available in 50 countries through Apple Books. Anyone anywhere that has internet can download it for free.”

“Weddell Seals; Science, Life History and Population Dynamics” can be viewed via Apple Books, direct download and a PC-friendly digital edition on the Weddell Seal Science website. To access more information about Weddell seal science, visit the research website at

- by MSU News Service -

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