Distribution of sea snakes in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park: observations from 10 yrs of baited remote underwater video station (BRUVS) sampling

Udyawer, Vinay, Cappo, Mike, Simpfendorfer, Colin A., Heupel, Michelle R., and Lukoschek, Vimoksalehi (2014) Distribution of sea snakes in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park: observations from 10 yrs of baited remote underwater video station (BRUVS) sampling. Coral Reefs, 33 (3). pp. 777-791.

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Abstract

The distributions of three species of sea snake (olive sea snake: Aipysurus laevis, spine-bellied sea snake: Lapemis curtus, and ornate sea snake: Hydrophis ocellatus) were estimated over 14A degrees of latitude within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) using data from baited remote underwater video stations (BRUVS). A total of 2,471 deployments of BRUVS were made in a range of locations, in sites open and closed to trawl fishing. Sightings of sea snakes were analysed alongside six spatial factors [depth, relative distance across (longitude) and along (latitude) the GBRMP, proximity to land, proximity to the nearest reef, and habitat complexity] to determine the factors that most strongly influenced the distribution and abundance of sea snakes. The results showed a strong latitudinal effect on the distribution of all three sea snake species, with the highest densities and diversities occurring in central and southern GBRMP locations, while the northern Great Barrier Reef was relatively depauperate in terms of both occurrence and diversity. Shallow inshore areas were identified as key habitats for A. laevis and L. curtus, whereas deeper offshore habitats were most important for H. ocellatus. No significant difference was found in the mean number of snakes sighted per hour between sites open and closed to trawling. There was a high degree of congruence in the distribution of sea snakes estimated from the BRUVS data and results from previous trawl and underwater visual surveys, demonstrating the utility of BRUVS to estimate distribution and relative abundance in these species of sea snake at broad spatial scales in a non-extractive manner.

Item ID: 36119
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0975
Keywords: BRUVS, spatial distribution, sea snakes, multivariate regression tree, boosted regression tree, zero-inflated model
Funders: CRC Reef Research Centre (CRC), Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC), National Oceans Office (NOO), National Environmental Research Program (NERP)
Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2014 10:32
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0608 Zoology > 060809 Vertebrate Biology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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