Eating or Meeting? Cluster Analysis Reveals Intricacies of White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) Migration and Offshore Behavior
2012; 7 (10)
Elucidating how mobile ocean predators utilize the pelagic environment is vital to understanding the dynamics of oceanic species and ecosystems. Pop-up archival transmitting (PAT) tags have emerged as an important tool to describe animal migrations in oceanic environments where direct observation is not feasible. Available PAT tag data, however, are for the most part limited to geographic position, swimming depth and environmental temperature, making effective behavioral observation challenging. However, novel analysis approaches have the potential to extend the interpretive power of these limited observations. Here we developed an approach based on clustering analysis of PAT daily time-at-depth histogram records to distinguish behavioral modes in white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias). We found four dominant and distinctive behavioral clusters matching previously described behavioral patterns, including two distinctive offshore diving modes. Once validated, we mapped behavior mode occurrence in space and time. Our results demonstrate spatial, temporal and sex-based structure in the diving behavior of white sharks in the northeastern Pacific previously unrecognized including behavioral and migratory patterns resembling those of species with lek mating systems. We discuss our findings, in combination with available life history and environmental data, and propose specific testable hypotheses to distinguish between mating and foraging in northeastern Pacific white sharks that can provide a framework for future work. Our methodology can be applied to similar datasets from other species to further define behaviors during unobservable phases.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0047819
View details for Web of Science ID 000310705300018
View details for PubMedID 23144707
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3483152