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Fishing for drifts: detecting buoyancy changes of a top marine predator using a step-wise filtering method

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Abstract

In southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina), fasting and foraging related fluctuations in body composition are reflected by buoyancy changes which can be monitored by changes in drift rate. Here, we present an improved knowledge-based method for detecting buoyancy changes from compressed and abstracted dive profiles received through telemetry. We applied this step-wise filtering method to the dive records of 11 southern elephant seals, which identified 0.8% to 2.2% of all dives as drift dives. At the beginning of the migration, all individuals were strongly negatively buoyant. Over the following 75 to 150 days, the buoyancy reached a peak close to or at neutral buoyancy, indicative of a seal’s foraging success. Ground-truthing confirmed that this new knowledge-based method is capable to reliably detect buoyancy changes in the dive records of drift diving species using abstracted dive profiles. This affirms that the abstraction algorithm conveys sufficient detail of the geometric shape of drift dives for them to be identified. It also suggest that using this step-wise filtering method, buoyancy changes could be detected even in old datasets with compressed dive information, for which conventional drift dive classification previously failed.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3816-3824
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Volume218
Issue number23
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2015

    Research areas

  • Buoyancy, Marine mammal, Elephant seal, Body composition, Drift diving, Telemetry, Foraging ecology, Diving behaviour

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