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Scale-dependent to scale-free: daily behavioural switching and optimized searching in a marine predator

Scale-dependent to scale-free: daily behavioural switching and optimized searching in a marine predator
Scale-dependent to scale-free: daily behavioural switching and optimized searching in a marine predator
Rhythmic activity patterns are ubiquitous in animals and in the marine environment a dominant rhythmic activity is the diel vertical migration (DVM) of pelagic organisms, moving or ‘migrating’ from deep waters during the day to shallower waters at night. While this overall pattern of movement is well understood, the cryptic nature of the marine environment has limited the study of fine-scale movements within each phase. Active pelagic predators, such as tuna, perform consistent, predictable large-scale vertical movements; however, the fine-scale movements nested within these larger movements have not previously been investigated in detail. Further, the prey field densities are known to differ significantly between day and night, presenting an opportunity to study differences in foraging patterns between these two phases. Here, using long-term depth time series recorded from 93 bigeye tuna, Thunnus obesus, with electronic tags (18?003 days of data), fine-scale changes in vertical movement patterns between day and night time phases were investigated in the context of the Lévy foraging hypothesis, which predicts a Lévy distribution of move steps during foraging when prey is scarce, but an exponential distribution when prey is abundant and searching is not required. During the day, T. obesus were found to exhibit scale-free movements well fitted by a Lévy distribution indicating optimized searching for sparsely distributed prey. During night-time hours, however, exponentially distributed scale-dependent move step lengths were found to be dominant, supporting a simple, Brownian, movement pattern sufficient where prey is abundant. This study not only confirms the predictions of the Lévy foraging hypothesis but suggests that the identification of Lévy patterns in movement data can be a useful indicator of foraging activity in animals that are difficult to observe directly.
anomalous diffusion, lévy flights, optimal foraging, rhythmic behaviour, search patterns, telemetry
0003-3472
189-201
Humphries, Nicolas E.
9246d06a-396a-4c05-9721-dc340e75a4d0
Schaefer, Kurt M.
dd716c3d-7d1e-4b82-a19e-bb85b11fdefa
Fuller, Daniel W.
89b5e6cf-3d12-4946-bc90-fdfb04cd6f62
Phillips, Grace E.M.
79e45630-9d86-4720-98c2-61e6d3f91aa7
Wilding, Catherine
d2dd0b57-2e68-4ad5-b117-a2ab80c37f78
Sims, David W.
7234b444-25e2-4bd5-8348-a1c142d0cf81
Humphries, Nicolas E.
9246d06a-396a-4c05-9721-dc340e75a4d0
Schaefer, Kurt M.
dd716c3d-7d1e-4b82-a19e-bb85b11fdefa
Fuller, Daniel W.
89b5e6cf-3d12-4946-bc90-fdfb04cd6f62
Phillips, Grace E.M.
79e45630-9d86-4720-98c2-61e6d3f91aa7
Wilding, Catherine
d2dd0b57-2e68-4ad5-b117-a2ab80c37f78
Sims, David W.
7234b444-25e2-4bd5-8348-a1c142d0cf81

Humphries, Nicolas E., Schaefer, Kurt M., Fuller, Daniel W., Phillips, Grace E.M., Wilding, Catherine and Sims, David W. (2016) Scale-dependent to scale-free: daily behavioural switching and optimized searching in a marine predator. Animal Behaviour, 113, 189-201. (doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2015.12.029).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Rhythmic activity patterns are ubiquitous in animals and in the marine environment a dominant rhythmic activity is the diel vertical migration (DVM) of pelagic organisms, moving or ‘migrating’ from deep waters during the day to shallower waters at night. While this overall pattern of movement is well understood, the cryptic nature of the marine environment has limited the study of fine-scale movements within each phase. Active pelagic predators, such as tuna, perform consistent, predictable large-scale vertical movements; however, the fine-scale movements nested within these larger movements have not previously been investigated in detail. Further, the prey field densities are known to differ significantly between day and night, presenting an opportunity to study differences in foraging patterns between these two phases. Here, using long-term depth time series recorded from 93 bigeye tuna, Thunnus obesus, with electronic tags (18?003 days of data), fine-scale changes in vertical movement patterns between day and night time phases were investigated in the context of the Lévy foraging hypothesis, which predicts a Lévy distribution of move steps during foraging when prey is scarce, but an exponential distribution when prey is abundant and searching is not required. During the day, T. obesus were found to exhibit scale-free movements well fitted by a Lévy distribution indicating optimized searching for sparsely distributed prey. During night-time hours, however, exponentially distributed scale-dependent move step lengths were found to be dominant, supporting a simple, Brownian, movement pattern sufficient where prey is abundant. This study not only confirms the predictions of the Lévy foraging hypothesis but suggests that the identification of Lévy patterns in movement data can be a useful indicator of foraging activity in animals that are difficult to observe directly.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 2 August 2015
e-pub ahead of print date: 4 February 2016
Published date: March 2016
Keywords: anomalous diffusion, lévy flights, optimal foraging, rhythmic behaviour, search patterns, telemetry
Organisations: Ocean and Earth Science

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 390751
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/390751
ISSN: 0003-3472
PURE UUID: 991032e5-1d74-4580-842e-6e46e310e78c

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Date deposited: 05 Apr 2016 08:37
Last modified: 09 Jan 2022 01:17

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Contributors

Author: Nicolas E. Humphries
Author: Kurt M. Schaefer
Author: Daniel W. Fuller
Author: Grace E.M. Phillips
Author: Catherine Wilding
Author: David W. Sims

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