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A new method to quantify within dive foraging behaviour in marine predators


Heerah, K and Hindell, M and Guinet, C and Charrassin, J-B, A new method to quantify within dive foraging behaviour in marine predators, Plos One, 9, (6) Article e99329. ISSN 1932-6203 (2014) [Refereed Article]


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Licenced under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)

DOI: doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0099329


Studies on diving behaviour classically divide a dive into three phases: the descent, bottom and ascent phases, with foraging assumed to occur during the bottom phase. The greater complexity of dive revealed through modern, high resolution data highlights the need to re-assess this approach and to consider a larger number of phases within individual dives. Two southern elephant seals (SES) were fitted with a head mounted Time Depth Recorder (TDR) and an accelerometer from which prey capture attempts were estimated. A Weddell seal was also fitted with a TDR. TDRs for both species recorded depth once per second. We quantified the within dive behaviour using an automated broken stick algorithm identifying the optimal number of segments within each dive. The vertical sinuosity of the segments was used to infer two types of behaviours, with highly sinuous segments indicating "hunting" and less sinuous segments indicating "transiting". Using the broken stick method the seals alternated between "hunting" and "transit" modes with an average of 62 and 70.02 behavioural phases within each dive for the Weddell seal and SES, respectively. In SES, 77% of prey capture attempts (identified from the acceleration data) occurred in highly sinuous phases ("hunting") as defined by our new approach. SES spent more time in transit mode within a dive, and hunting mostly occurred during the bottom phase. Conversely the Weddell seal spent more time in hunting mode which also occurred during bottom phase but occurred mostly at shallower depths. Such differences probably reflect different foraging tactics and habitat use. For both species, hunting time differs significantly from bottom time previously used as a proxy for the time spent foraging in a dive. The hunting time defined by our method therefore provides a more accurate fine-scale description of the seals' foraging behaviour.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Southern Ocean, predators, ecology
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Coastal and estuarine systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems
UTAS Author:Hindell, M (Professor Mark Hindell)
ID Code:93760
Year Published:2014
Web of Science® Times Cited:30
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2014-08-14
Last Modified:2017-11-01
Downloads:456 View Download Statistics

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