Encounter success of free-ranging marine predator movements across a dynamic prey landscape

Sims, David W., Witt, Matthew J., Richardson, Anthony J., Southall, Emily J. and Metcalfe, Julian D. (2006) Encounter success of free-ranging marine predator movements across a dynamic prey landscape. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences, 273 1591: 1195-1201. doi:10.1098/rspb.2005.3444


Author Sims, David W.
Witt, Matthew J.
Richardson, Anthony J.
Southall, Emily J.
Metcalfe, Julian D.
Title Encounter success of free-ranging marine predator movements across a dynamic prey landscape
Journal name Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0962-8452
1471-2954
Publication date 2006-05-22
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1098/rspb.2005.3444
Volume 273
Issue 1591
Start page 1195
End page 1201
Total pages 7
Editor William Hill
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher The Royal Society Publishing
Collection year 2006
Language eng
Subject C1
239901 Biological Mathematics
Abstract Movements of wide-ranging top predators can now be studied effectively using satellite and archival telemetry. However, the motivations underlying movements remain difficult to determine because trajectories are seldom related to key biological gradients, such as changing prey distributions. Here, we use a dynamic prey landscape of zooplankton biomass in the north-east Atlantic Ocean to examine active habitat selection in the plankton-feeding basking shark Cetorhinus maximus. The relative success of shark searches across this landscape was examined by comparing prey biomass encountered by sharks with encounters by random-walk simulations of ‘model’ sharks. Movements of transmitter-tagged sharks monitored for 964 days (16754km estimated minimum distance) were concentrated on the European continental shelf in areas characterized by high seasonal productivity and complex prey distributions. We show movements by adult and sub-adult sharks yielded consistently higher prey encounter rates than 90% of random-walk simulations. Behavioural patterns were consistent with basking sharks using search tactics structured across multiple scales to exploit the richest prey areas available in preferred habitats. Simple behavioural rules based on learned responses to previously encountered prey distributions may explain the high performances. This study highlights how dynamic prey landscapes enable active habitat selection in large predators to be investigated from a trophic perspective, an approach that may inform conservation by identifying critical habitat of vulnerable species.
Keyword Satellite telemetry
Foraging ecology
Fish
Strategy
Tactics
Cetacean
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

 
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Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 10:15:58 EST