Bringing Ecologists and Statisticians Together for the Conservation of Endangered Species

Post provided by Cecilia Pinto and Luigi Spezia

The Benefits of High Frequency Data

One of the tagged flapper skates showing the three different kinds of tags. ©Cecilia Pinto

One of the tagged flapper skates showing the three different kinds of tags. ©Cecilia Pinto

High frequency data, like those obtained from individual electronic tags, carries the potential of giving us detailed information on the behaviour of species at the individual level. Such data are particularly useful for marine species, as we can’t observe them directly for long periods of time.

Understanding how individuals use water columns – both at daily and seasonal scales – can help define conservation measures such as restricting fishing activity to reduce by-catch or defining protected areas to help recovering populations or protect spawning and nursery areas. High frequency data have become popular as they give insight to detailed individual foraging behaviour and therefore the specific energetic needs that are linked to reproduction and fitness. Continue reading

Safeguarding Sturgeon: Satellite measurements of ocean color and temperature help researchers predict sturgeon locations

Below is a press release about the Methods paper ‘Dynamic seascapes predict the marine occurrence of an endangered species: Atlantic Sturgeon Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus‘ taken from the University of Delaware.

New clues are helping University of Delaware researchers develop an online map to help Mid-Atlantic fishermen avoid catching Atlantic sturgeon.

Researchers at the University of Delaware are one step closer to developing an online map that would help Mid-Atlantic fishermen avoid catching Atlantic sturgeon.

The research team, led by Matthew J. Oliver, Patricia and Charles Robertson Professor of Marine Science and Policy, found they could make useful predictions about sturgeon locations using satellite measurements of ocean color and temperature. They reported their findings Feb. 3 in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution.

The researchers believe this to be an important step toward helping both fishermen and the vulnerable fish. If they can reliably predict where sturgeon or other “species of concern” are congregating or migrating, they can relay this information to fishermen through a daily fishing forecast, similar to a weather forecast. Continue reading

Accompanying Marine Mammals into the Abyss: The Benefits of Electronic Tag Data for Undersea Tracking

Post provided by Christophe Laplanche, Tiago Marques and Len Thomas

1km Deep

Most marine mammal species spend the majority of their lifetime at sea… underwater. Some species (like sperm whales, beaked whales, and elephant seals) can go routinely as deep as 1000m below sea level. To mammals like us, these incredible depths seem uninhabitable. It’s cold, dark, under high pressure (100kg/cm²) and 1km from air! Yet deep-diving marine mammals thrive there and have colonized every deep ocean on the planet. They have developed amazing capabilities for that purpose – including efficient swimming, an advanced auditory system, sonar (in some cases), thermal insulation, extreme breath holding abilities and resistance to high pressure.

How is that possible?

Spending most of their time at depth makes them quite difficult to study. And we have a lot of questions to ask them. How do they balance swimming cost versus food intake? Do they forage cooperatively, in groups? For those with sonar, how does it work? With increasing human activities (oil exploration, military sonar, sea transport, fishing etc.) an important new question arises: how do they cope with us?

Researchers tagging a Cuvier's beaked whale with a DTAG sound tag (soundtags.st-andrews.ac.uk) in the Ligurian Sea (© T. Pusser)

Researchers tagging a Cuvier’s beaked whale with a DTAG sound tag (soundtags.st-andrews.ac.uk) in the Ligurian Sea (© T. Pusser)

Continue reading