Diurnal activity patterns and habitat use of juvenile Pastinachus ater in a coral reef flat environment

Martins, A. P. B., Heupel, M. R., Bierwagen, S. L., Chin, A., and Simpfendorfer, C. (2020) Diurnal activity patterns and habitat use of juvenile Pastinachus ater in a coral reef flat environment. PLoS ONE, 15 (2). e0228280.

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Abstract

Stingrays are thought to play important ecological roles in coral reef ecosystems. However, little is known about juvenile stingray movement patterns and habitat use in coral reefs. This study used active acoustic telemetry to determine fine-scale diel movement patterns and habitat use of juvenile cowtail stingrays (Pastinachus ater) in a coral reef flat environment. Seven cowtail stingrays (4 males and 3 females) were manually tracked between April and December 2016. Each individual was tracked over 2 days, generating a total of 14 active tracks ranging from 4.91 to 9 h. Specimens moved at an average speed of 2.44 m min-1 ± 0.87 SE, with minimum distances travelled ranging from 546 to 1446 m. Tracking data showed that juvenile cowtail stingrays move in response to tidal cycles, moving faster and in straighter pathways during incoming and outgoing tides. Juvenile cowtail stingrays also showed a strong affinity to sand flat areas and mangrove edge areas. These areas provide food resources and potential refuges for juvenile rays to avoid predators. Coral reef flats were identified as secondary refuge for juveniles during the lowest tides. Future research is necessary to fully unveil the major drivers of juvenile cowtail stingray seasonal and ontogenetic movement patterns and habitat use within coral reef flat environments. This information is important to establish a full understanding of juvenile cowtail stingray ecology, but could also improve management and conservation policies.

Item ID: 60444
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
Keywords: habitat, behaviour, stingray, tracking
Copyright Information: Copyright: © 2020 Martins et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Funders: James Cook University, CAPES Foundation, Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), College of Science and Engineering, James Cook University
Research Data: http://dx.doi.org/10.25903/5e2fa6051a633
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2020 00:36
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 30%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 60%
07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0704 Fisheries Sciences > 070403 Fisheries Management @ 10%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960701 Coastal and Marine Management Policy @ 20%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960802 Coastal and Estuarine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 40%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 40%
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