Markov models and network analysis reveal sex-specific differences in the space-use of a coastal apex predator

Stehfest, Kilian M., Patterson, Toby A., Barnett, Adam, and Semmens, Jayson M. (2015) Markov models and network analysis reveal sex-specific differences in the space-use of a coastal apex predator. Oikos, 124 (3). pp. 307-318.

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Abstract

Understanding the links between external variables such as habitat and interactions with conspecifics and animal space-use is fundamental to developing effective management measures. In the marine realm, automated acoustic tracking has become a widely used method for monitoring the movement of free-ranging animals, yet researchers generally lack robust methods for analysing the resulting spatial-usage data.

In this study, acoustic tracking data from male and female broadnose sevengill sharks Notorynchus cepedianus, collected in a system of coastal embayments in southeast Tasmania were analyzed to examine sex-specific differences in the sharks' coastal space-use and test novel methods for the analysis of acoustic telemetry data.

Sex-specific space-use of the broadnose sevengill shark from acoustic telemetry data was analysed in two ways: The recently proposed spatial network analysis of between-receiver movements was employed to identify sex-specific space-use patterns. To include the full breadth of temporal information held in the data, movements between receivers were furthermore considered as transitions between states of a Markov chain, with the resulting transition probability matrix allowing the ranking of the relative importance of different parts of the study area.

Both spatial network and Markov chain analysis revealed sex-specific preferences of different sites within the study area. The identification of priority areas differed for the methods, due to the fact that in contrast to network analysis, our Markov chain approach preserves the chronological sequence of detections and accounts for both residency periods and movements.

In addition to adding to our knowledge of the ecology of a globally distributed apex predator, this study presents a promising new step towards condensing the vast amounts of information collected with acoustic tracking technology into straightforward results which are directly applicable to the management and conservation of any species that meet the assumptions of our model.

Item ID: 41741
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1600-0706
Funders: Our Seas Foundation, Winifred Violet Scott Charitable Trust, Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2015 18:18
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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