Fine scale spatial variability in the influence of environmental cycles on the occurrence of dolphins at coastal sites

Oihane Fernandez-Betelu (Corresponding Author), Isla M. Graham, Thomas Cornulier, Paul M. Thompson

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Abstract

Environmental cycles often influence the presence of animals, creating patterns at different temporal scales, which may mean that their effects overlap and/or interact. Interactions between diel and seasonal cycles have been reported to influence fish behaviour but little is known about such interactions in marine top predators. Here, we studied the combined effect of seasonal, tidal and diel cycles on the occurrence of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) at three coastal sites within a Marine Protected Area in Scotland. Our analyses were based on echolocation detections from passive acoustic devices (CPODs) deployed between 2010 and 2016. We described patterns of dolphins’ occurrence using circular statistics and then used generalised additive mixed models to explore the relative importance of each cycle and any interactions between them. We found site-specific cyclical patterns of presence that remained constant across years. There was a highly significant interaction between seasonal and diel cycles at two sites around deep channels, where occurrence was diurnal in summer but became nocturnal in autumn. The study demonstrates the highly plastic behaviour of bottlenose dolphins and shows a previously unreported behaviour that has management implications for this and other marine protected areas.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2548
JournalScientific Reports
Volume9
Early online date22 Feb 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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Keywords

  • BOTTLE-NOSED DOLPHINS
  • DIEL VARIATION
  • HABITAT PREFERENCES
  • HARBOR PORPOISES
  • MARINE PROTECTED AREAS
  • MORAY-FIRTH
  • PHOCOENA-PHOCOENA
  • SEALS PHOCA-VITULINA
  • SEASONAL-VARIATION
  • TURSIOPS-TRUNCATUS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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