Links Between Fine-Scale Horizontal and Vertical Movement Behaviors in Tiger Sharks

Published on
14. May 2019

Biologging Tags Reveal Links Between Fine-Scale Horizontal and Vertical Movement Behaviors in Tiger Sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier)

Samantha Andrzejaczek, Adrian C. Gleiss, Karissa O. Lear, Charitha B. Pattiaratchi, Taylor K. Chapple, Mark G. Meekan


An understanding of the role that large marine predators play in structuring trophic flow and nutrient cycling in marine ecosystems requires knowledge of their fine-scale (m-km) movement behaviors. In this study, biologging tags were used to reveal new insights into the three-dimensional fine-scale movement ecology of tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. Tags deployed on 21 sharks in April-May 2017 for durations of 5–48 h recorded both physical parameters such as depth and temperature, and, through the use of accelerometers, gyroscopes and compasses, in-situ measurements of animal trajectory and locomotion. Animal-borne-video enabled the validation of behavioral signatures, mapping of habitat, and recording of interactions with prey. Collectively, these data were used to examine the link between vertical (oscillations) and horizontal (tortuosity) movements, and link sensor data to prey interactions recorded by the video. This biologging approach revealed complex movements that would otherwise be invisible within the time-depth records provided by traditional tagging techniques. The rate of horizontal turning was not related to vertical oscillations, suggesting that vertical movements occur independently of searching behaviors in tiger sharks. These animals displayed tortuous movements possibly associated with prey searching for 27% of their tracks, and interactions with prey elicited varied responses including highly tortuous paths and burst movements. Accurate speed measurements and GPS anchor points will considerably enhance the value of magnetometer data in future studies by facilitating more accurate dead-reckoning and geo-referencing of area-restricted search behaviors.

Front. Mar. Sci. 6:229. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00229


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