The essential habitat role of a unique coastal inlet for a widely distributed apex predator

De Wysiecki, Agustín M., Barnett, Adam, Cortés, Federico, Wiff, Rodrigo, Merlo, Pablo J., Jaureguizar, Andrés J., Awruch, Cynthia A., Trobbiani, Gastón A., and Irigoyen, Alejo J. (2023) The essential habitat role of a unique coastal inlet for a widely distributed apex predator. Royal Society Open Science, 10 (10). 230667.

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Abstract

Essential habitats support specific functions for species, such as reproduction, feeding or refuge. For highly mobile aquatic species, identifying essential habitats within the wider distribution range is central to understanding species ecology, and underpinning effective management plans. This study examined the movement and space use patterns of sevengill sharks (Notorynchus cepedianus) in Caleta Valdés (CV), a unique coastal habitat in northern Patagonia, Argentina. Seasonal residency patterns of sharks were evident, with higher detectability in late spring and early summer and lower during autumn and winter. The overlap between the residency patterns of sharks and their prey, elephant seals, suggests that CV functions as a seasonal feeding aggregation site for N. cepedianus. The study also found sexual differences in movement behaviour, with males performing abrupt departures from CV and showing increased roaming with the presence of more sharks, and maximum detection probability at high tide. These movements could be related to different feeding strategies between sexes or mate-searching behaviour, suggesting that CV may also be essential for reproduction. Overall, this study highlights the importance of coastal sites as essential habitats for N. cepedianus and deepens our understanding of the ecological role of this apex predator in marine ecosystems.

Item ID: 81061
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2054-5703
Keywords: acoustic tracking, aggregation, marine protected area, sevengill shark, spatial ecology, tidal effect
Copyright Information: © 2023 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2024 01:05
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180504 Marine biodiversity @ 100%
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