MEPS 562:181-192 (2016)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11947

Assessing the utility of two- and three-dimensional behavioural metrics in habitat usage models

Penelope Pascoe1,*, Mary-Anne Lea1,2, Rob H. Mattlin3, Clive R. McMahon1,4, Robert Harcourt5, David Thompson6, Leigh Torres7, Kimberly Vinette-Herrin8, Mark A. Hindell1,2

1Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Battery Point 7004, Australia
2Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems CRC, Level 3, Tasmania 7004, Australia
3Marine Wildlife Research, Nelson 7050, New Zealand
4Sydney Institute of Marine Science, Mosman, NSW 2088, Australia
5Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia
6National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Wellington 6021, New Zealand
7Hatfield Marine Science Center, Marine Mammal Institute, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University, Newport, OR 97365, USA
8Taronga Conservation Society, Mosman, NSW 2088, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: For deep-diving, wide-ranging marine predators, foraging behaviour is often inferred from movement data. Various metrics are used to do this, and recently, metrics have been developed that consider both horizontal movement and vertical dive behaviour to better describe the use of the 3-dimensional environment these animals inhabit. However, the efficacy of these different metrics in predicting behavioural state is poorly understood. We used first passage time (2-dimensional) and first bottom time (3-dimensional) analyses on tracks derived from satellite-relayed data loggers to quantify and determine seal behavioural state while foraging at sea. Movement and dive data were collected from 38 southern elephant seals Mirounga leonina from Macquarie and Campbell Islands (in the Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean). Using a suite of environmental variables, linear mixed-effect models were derived for the 2 broad habitats visited by the seals: shelf and open ocean. The best-fitting models for each foraging metric in each habitat were then compared using a cross validation analysis to identify which foraging metric produced the best predictions of habitat use. In shelf habitats, the 3-dimensional foraging metric provided better predictions than the 2-dimensional metric, while the 2-dimensional foraging metric resulted in the best predictive capacity in the open ocean habitats. These findings highlight the importance of considering the appropriate foraging metrics when modelling foraging behaviour.


KEY WORDS: Foraging · Habitat · First passage time · Mirounga leonina


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Cite this article as: Pascoe P, Lea MA, Mattlin RH, McMahon CR and others (2016) Assessing the utility of two- and three-dimensional behavioural metrics in habitat usage models. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 562:181-192. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11947

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