Interpreting diel activity patterns from acoustic telemetry: the need for controls

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2010
Authors:N. L. Payne, Gillanders, B. M., Webber, D. M., Semmens, J. M.
Journal:Marine Ecology-Progress Series
ISBN Number:0171-8630
Accession Number:ISI:000285068400024
Keywords:acoustics, behavior, Sepia apama

Acoustic telemetry has emerged as a leading approach to infer diel, tidal and lunar rhythmicity in the movements of aquatic organisms in a range of taxa. Typically, studies examine the relative frequency of detections from individuals tagged with acoustic transmitters, and then infer patterns in the species' behaviour, but studies to date have not controlled for factors that may influence tag detection patterns in the absence of animal behaviour. We compared patterns in acoustic detections from tagged cuttlefish Sepia apama and several fixed-location control tags, and used these data to highlight the danger of misinterpreting patterns in the absence of adequate controls. Cuttlefish and control tags displayed similar detection patterns, and correcting cuttlefish-detection data for the influence of environmental factors resulted in the opposite pattern of cuttlefish activity displayed prior to correction. This study highlights the danger of using acoustic data to infer animal behaviour in the absence of adequate controls.

Short Title:Mar. Ecol.-Prog. Ser.
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith