Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Functional mechanisms underlying cetacean distribution patterns: hotspots for bottlenose dolphins are linked to foraging

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

G D Hastie, B Wilson, L J Wilson, K M Parsons, P M Thompson

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Many studies have shown that the distribution of cetaceans can be closely linked to habitat, but the underlying function of the preferred habitats often remains unclear. Only when behavioural observations are made in relation to habitat types can functional mechanisms behind the habitat use be revealed. Within the range of a bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) population off NE Scotland, dolphins show clear preferences for several discrete areas. If the observed patterns of distribution are related to foraging, we predict that behaviour patterns shown by dolphins would reflect this relationship. In this study we identify behaviours of dolphins at the water surface that were related to feeding events, evaluate whether the patterns of distribution were related to foraging and whether they were related the local submarine habitat characteristics. To investigate whether visible surface evidence of foraging behaviour varied spatially, we analysed data collected from 104 regular boat-based surveys made within the Moray Firth, NE Scotland, between 1990 and 2000. To determine whether underlying bathymetry had any influence on the surface behaviour of dolphins, a land-based observation study was carried out in the populations core region of use. The results of this study show that feeding behaviour by dolphins was significantly higher in areas used intensively by dolphins. Furthermore, there were clear relationships between feeding events and the submarine habitat characteristics; certain forms of feeding occur primarily over steep seabed gradients, and in deeper waters during June and July. These results quantitatively support the hypothesis that the distinctive patterns of distribution shown by these dolphins are related to foraging behaviour or opportunities, and that submarine habitat characteristics may be a significant factor in the foraging efficiency of dolphins. Future work should focus on collecting detailed information on the distribution patterns of prey within the study area to allow direct comparisons between predator and prey distributions.

Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-403
Number of pages7
JournalMarine Biology
Volume144
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2004

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Empirical determination of severe trauma in seals from collisions with tidal turbine blades

    Onoufriou, J., Brownlow, A., Moss, S., Hastie, G. & Thompson, D., 30 Mar 2019, (Accepted/In press) In : Journal of Applied Ecology. In press

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Effects of impulsive noise on marine mammals: investigating range-dependent risk

    Hastie, G., Merchant, N., Goetz, T., Russell, D. J. F., Thompson, P. & Janik, V., 19 Feb 2019, (Accepted/In press) In : Ecological Applications. In press

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Harbour seals avoid tidal turbine noise: implications for collision risk

    Hastie, G. D., Russell, D. J. F., Lepper, P., Elliott, J., Wilson, B., Benjamins, S. & Thompson, D., Mar 2018, In : Journal of Applied Ecology. 55, 2, p. 684-693 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Seals and shipping: quantifying population risk and individual exposure to vessel noise

    Jones, E. L., Hastie, G. D., Smout, S., Onoufriou, J., Merchant, N. D., Brookes, K. L. & Thompson, D., Dec 2017, In : Journal of Applied Ecology. 54, 6, p. 1930-1940

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Behavioural and temporal partitioning of dolphin social groups in the northern Adriatic Sea

    Genov, T., Centrih, T., Kotnjek, P. & Hace, A., Jan 2019, In : Marine Biology. 166, 1, 11 p., 166.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Icelandic herring-eating killer whales feed at night

    Gaëtan, R., Filatova, O. A., Samarra, F. I. P., Fedutin, I. D., Lammers, M. & Miller, P., Feb 2017, In : Marine Biology. 164, 2, 32.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Movements and site fidelity of killer whales (Orcinus orca) relative to seasonal and long-term shifts in herring (Clupea harengus) distribution

    Samarra, F. I. P., Tavares, S. B., Béesau, J., Deecke, V. B., Fennell, A., Miller, P. J. O., Pétursson, H., Sigurjónsson, J. & Víkingsson, G. A., 1 Aug 2017, In : Marine Biology. 164, 15 p., 159.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Marine life of the sea trout

    Thorstad, E. B., Todd, C. D., Uglem, I., Bjørn, P. A., Gargan, P. G., Vollset, K. W., Halttunen, E., Kålås, S., Berg, M. & Finstad, B., Mar 2016, In : Marine Biology. 163, 3, 19 p., 47.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. Reproductive strategies and energy sources fuelling reproductive growth in a protracted spawner

    Mendo, T., Semmens, J. M., Lyle, J. M., Tracey, S. R. & Moltschaniwskyj, N., 5 Jan 2016, In : Marine Biology. 163, 2.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Marine Biology (Journal)

    Nora Nell Hanson (Reviewer)
    Mar 2011

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

ID: 35077560