MEPS 419:295-301 (2010)  -  doi:10.3354/meps08864

NOTE
Interpreting diel activity patterns from acoustic telemetry: the need for controls

Nicholas L. Payne1,*, Bronwyn M. Gillanders1, Dale M. Webber2, Jayson M. Semmens

1Southern Seas Ecology Laboratories, University of Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia
2Vemco, Amirix Systems Inc., Halifax, Nova Scotia B3S 0B9, Canada
3Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute, University of Tasmania, Taroona, Tasmania 7001, Australia

ABSTRACT: Acoustic telemetry has emerged as a leading approach to infer diel, tidal and lunar rhythmicity in the movements of aquatic organisms in a range of taxa. Typically, studies examine the relative frequency of detections from individuals tagged with acoustic transmitters, and then infer patterns in the species’ behaviour, but studies to date have not controlled for factors that may influence tag detection patterns in the absence of animal behaviour. We compared patterns in acoustic detections from tagged cuttlefish Sepia apama and several fixed-location control tags, and used these data to highlight the danger of misinterpreting patterns in the absence of adequate controls. Cuttlefish and control tags displayed similar detection patterns, and correcting cuttlefish-detection data for the influence of environmental factors resulted in the opposite pattern of cuttlefish activity displayed prior to correction. This study highlights the danger of using acoustic data to infer animal behaviour in the absence of adequate controls.


KEY WORDS: Acoustic telemetry · Rhythmicity · Behaviour · Diel · Activity · Temporal


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Cite this article as: Payne NL, Gillanders BM, Webber DM, Semmens JM (2010) Interpreting diel activity patterns from acoustic telemetry: the need for controls. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 419:295-301

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