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Two’s company, three’s a crowd: fine-scale habitat partitioning by depth among sympatric species of marine mesopredator

Two’s company, three’s a crowd: fine-scale habitat partitioning by depth among sympatric species of marine mesopredator
Two’s company, three’s a crowd: fine-scale habitat partitioning by depth among sympatric species of marine mesopredator
A sympatric assemblage of morphologically similar predators is expected to exhibit fine-scale habitat segregation, or resource partitioning, to reduce the effects of direct competition. This principle has been well studied for predators in terrestrial ecosystems. In the marine environment, the fine-scale spatial segregation of sympatric species of large predators is poorly understood because detailed movement and behavioural data are often not available across multiple species within the same timeframe. The ways in which co-occurring congeneric predators separate spatially is even less well understood. Medium-sized species of skates (genus Raja) co-occur in temperate habitats of the north-east Atlantic Ocean, share similar morphologies and have distributional ranges that overlap significantly in the western English Channel ecosystem. In the present study, detailed depth time series retrieved from 89 electronic data storage tags attached to 4 species of skate were analysed to determine preferred depth ranges. The 4 species were found to segregate spatially into 2 groups, with one group having a significantly shallower core annual depth range than the other. To our knowledge, fine-scale segregation by depth has not been observed previously. Interestingly, the members of each species group appeared complementary, each group comprising species with different dietary preferences and with a larger and smaller body size. An understanding of how core depth ranges differ and how these species utilise vertical habitat could potentially enable geographic ranges around the coast to be predicted, with important implications for how these species interact with fisheries and Marine Protected Areas.
Segregation, Resources, Marine, Raja, Ray, Skate, Niche
173-187
Humphries, Nicolas E.
9246d06a-396a-4c05-9721-dc340e75a4d0
Simpson, Samantha J.
362aed0b-bfb2-418e-8e3c-e36fa04cfcab
Wearmouth, Victoria J.
1de41e9a-ba37-4044-9440-ea1af23150b0
Sims, David W.
7234b444-25e2-4bd5-8348-a1c142d0cf81
Humphries, Nicolas E.
9246d06a-396a-4c05-9721-dc340e75a4d0
Simpson, Samantha J.
362aed0b-bfb2-418e-8e3c-e36fa04cfcab
Wearmouth, Victoria J.
1de41e9a-ba37-4044-9440-ea1af23150b0
Sims, David W.
7234b444-25e2-4bd5-8348-a1c142d0cf81

Humphries, Nicolas E., Simpson, Samantha J., Wearmouth, Victoria J. and Sims, David W. (2016) Two’s company, three’s a crowd: fine-scale habitat partitioning by depth among sympatric species of marine mesopredator. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 561, 173-187. (doi:10.3354/meps11937).

Record type: Article

Abstract

A sympatric assemblage of morphologically similar predators is expected to exhibit fine-scale habitat segregation, or resource partitioning, to reduce the effects of direct competition. This principle has been well studied for predators in terrestrial ecosystems. In the marine environment, the fine-scale spatial segregation of sympatric species of large predators is poorly understood because detailed movement and behavioural data are often not available across multiple species within the same timeframe. The ways in which co-occurring congeneric predators separate spatially is even less well understood. Medium-sized species of skates (genus Raja) co-occur in temperate habitats of the north-east Atlantic Ocean, share similar morphologies and have distributional ranges that overlap significantly in the western English Channel ecosystem. In the present study, detailed depth time series retrieved from 89 electronic data storage tags attached to 4 species of skate were analysed to determine preferred depth ranges. The 4 species were found to segregate spatially into 2 groups, with one group having a significantly shallower core annual depth range than the other. To our knowledge, fine-scale segregation by depth has not been observed previously. Interestingly, the members of each species group appeared complementary, each group comprising species with different dietary preferences and with a larger and smaller body size. An understanding of how core depth ranges differ and how these species utilise vertical habitat could potentially enable geographic ranges around the coast to be predicted, with important implications for how these species interact with fisheries and Marine Protected Areas.

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Accepted/In Press date: 14 October 2016
e-pub ahead of print date: 15 December 2016
Keywords: Segregation, Resources, Marine, Raja, Ray, Skate, Niche
Organisations: Ocean and Earth Science, Marine Biology & Ecology

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 405797
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/405797
PURE UUID: 1fdcc90c-3db6-48ad-b02a-c4de092899dc

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Date deposited: 10 Feb 2017 13:54
Last modified: 27 Apr 2022 08:44

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Contributors

Author: Nicolas E. Humphries
Author: Samantha J. Simpson
Author: Victoria J. Wearmouth
Author: David W. Sims

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