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Can we predict foraging success in a marine predator from dive patterns only? Validation with prey capture attempt data.


ABSTRACT: Predicting how climatic variations will affect marine predator populations relies on our ability to assess foraging success, but evaluating foraging success in a marine predator at sea is particularly difficult. Dive metrics are commonly available for marine mammals, diving birds and some species of fish. Bottom duration or dive duration are usually used as proxies for foraging success. However, few studies have tried to validate these assumptions and identify the set of behavioral variables that best predict foraging success at a given time scale. The objective of this study was to assess if foraging success in Antarctic fur seals could be accurately predicted from dive parameters only, at different temporal scales. For this study, 11 individuals were equipped with either Hall sensors or accelerometers to record dive profiles and detect mouth-opening events, which were considered prey capture attempts. The number of prey capture attempts was best predicted by descent and ascent rates at the dive scale; bottom duration and descent rates at 30-min, 1-h, and 2-h scales; and ascent rates and maximum dive depths at the all-night scale. Model performances increased with temporal scales, but rank and sign of the factors varied according to the time scale considered, suggesting that behavioral adjustment in response to prey distribution could occur at certain scales only. The models predicted the foraging intensity of new individuals with good accuracy despite high inter-individual differences. Dive metrics that predict foraging success depend on the species and the scale considered, as verified by the literature and this study. The methodology used in our study is easy to implement, enables an assessment of model performance, and could be applied to any other marine predator.

SUBMITTER: Viviant M 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC3945944 | BioStudies | 2014-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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