The intensity of horizontal and vertical search in a diving forager the harbour seal
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionMovement Ecology 2015, 3(15):1-16 10.1186/s40462-015-0042-9
Free ranging foraging animals can vary their searching intensity in response to the profitability of the environment by modifying their movements. Marine diving animals forage in a three dimensional space and searching intensity can be varied in both the horizontal and vertical planes. Therefore understanding the relationship between the allocation of searching effort in these two spaces can provide a better understanding of searching strategies and a more robust identification of foraging behaviour from the multitude of foraging indices (FIs) available. We investigated the movement of a widespread marine coastal predator, the harbour seal (Phoca vitulina), and compared two sets of foraging indices reflecting searching intensity respectively in the horizontal plane (displacement speed, extensive vs. intensive movement types, residence time) and in the vertical dimension (time at the bottom of a dive). We then tested how several factors (dive depth, direction of the trip with respect to haul-out site, different predatory tactics, the presence of factors confounding the detection of foraging, and temporal resolution of the data) affected their relationships.