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Movement responses to environment: fast inference of variation among southern elephant seals with a mixed effects model


Jonsen, ID and McMahon, CR and Patterson, TA and Auger-Methe, M and Harcourt, R and Hindell, MA and Bestley, S, Movement responses to environment: fast inference of variation among southern elephant seals with a mixed effects model, Ecology, 100, (1) Article e02566. ISSN 0012-9658 (2019) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2018 Ecological Society of America

DOI: doi:10.1002/ecy.2566


Like many species, movement patterns of southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) are being influenced by long‐term environmental change. These seals migrate up to 4,000 km from their breeding colonies, foraging for months in a variety of Southern Ocean habitats. Understanding how movement patterns vary with environmental features and how these relationships differ among individuals employing different foraging strategies can provide insight into foraging performance at a population level. We apply new fast‐estimation tools to fit mixed effects within a random walk movement model, rapidly inferring among‐individual variability in southern elephant seal environment–movement relationships. We found that seals making foraging trips to the sea ice on or near the Antarctic continental shelf consistently reduced speed and directionality (move persistence) with increasing sea‐ice coverage but had variable responses to chlorophyll a concentration, whereas seals foraging in the open ocean reduced move persistence in regions where circumpolar deep water shoaled. Given future climate scenarios, open‐ocean foragers may encounter more productive habitat but sea‐ice foragers may see reduced habitat availability. Our approach is scalable to large telemetry data sets and allows flexible combinations of mixed effects to be evaluated via model selection, thereby illuminating the ecological context of animal movements that underlie habitat usage.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Southern Ocean, ecosystems, tracking, correlated random walk, habitat, latent variable, random effects, southern elephant seals, spatial ecology, telemetry, template model builder
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Marine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Hindell, MA (Professor Mark Hindell)
UTAS Author:Bestley, S (Dr Sophie Bestley)
ID Code:130085
Year Published:2019
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (A00104696)
Web of Science® Times Cited:49
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2019-01-09
Last Modified:2020-01-06
Downloads:88 View Download Statistics

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