Linking movement and dive data to prey distribution models: new insights in foraging behaviour and potential pitfalls of movement analyses

Thumbnail Image
Florko, Katie R. N.
Shuert, Courtney R.
Cheung, William W. L.
Ferguson, Steven H
Jonsen, Ian D.
Rosen, David A.S.
Sumaila, U.R.
Tai, Travis C.
Yurkowski, David
Auger-Methe, Marie
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
BioMed Central (BMC)
Abstract Background Animal movement data are regularly used to infer foraging behaviour and relationships to environmental characteristics, often to help identify critical habitat. To characterize foraging, movement models make a set of assumptions rooted in theory, for example, time spent foraging in an area increases with higher prey density. Methods We assessed the validity of these assumptions by associating horizontal movement and diving of satellite-telemetered ringed seals (Pusa hispida)—an opportunistic predator—in Hudson Bay, Canada, to modelled prey data and environmental proxies. Results Modelled prey biomass data performed better than their environmental proxies (e.g., sea surface temperature) for explaining seal movement; however movement was not related to foraging effort. Counter to theory, seals appeared to forage more in areas with relatively lower prey diversity and biomass, potentially due to reduced foraging efficiency in those areas. Conclusions Our study highlights the need to validate movement analyses with prey data to effectively estimate the relationship between prey availability and foraging behaviour.
Movement Ecology. 2023 Mar 23;11(1):17
Movement Ecology. 2023 Mar 23;11(1):17