Spatial variation in a top marine predator’s diet at two regionally distinct sites

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dc.contributor.author Gosch, Martha
dc.contributor.author Cronin, Michelle A.
dc.contributor.author Rogan, Emer
dc.contributor.author Hunt, William
dc.contributor.author Luck, Cian
dc.contributor.author Jessopp, Mark J.
dc.date.accessioned 2019-05-16T15:39:57Z
dc.date.available 2019-05-16T15:39:57Z
dc.date.issued 2019-01-02
dc.identifier.citation Gosch, M., Cronin, M., Rogan, E., Hunt, W., Luck, C. and Jessopp, M., 2019. Spatial variation in a top marine predator’s diet at two regionally distinct sites. PloS one, 14(1), (e0209032). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0209032 en
dc.identifier.volume 14 en
dc.identifier.issued 1 en
dc.identifier.startpage 1 en
dc.identifier.endpage 20 en
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10468/7928
dc.identifier.doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0209032 en
dc.description.abstract In ecological studies it is often assumed that predator foraging strategies and resource use are geographically and seasonally homogeneous, resulting in relatively static trophic relationships. However, certain centrally placed foragers (e.g. seals) often have terrestrial sites for breeding, resting, and moulting that are geographically distinct, and associated with different habitat types. Therefore, accurate estimations of predator diet at relevant spatial and temporal scales are key to understanding energetic requirements, predator-prey interactions and ecosystem structure. We investigate geographic variation in the diet of grey seals (Halichoerus grypus), a relatively abundant and widely distributed central place forager, to provide insights into geographic variation in resource use. Prey composition was identified using scat samples collected over concurrent timescales and a multivariate approach was used to analyse diet from two contrasting habitats. Regional differences in prey assemblages occurred within all years (2011–2013) and all seasons (ANOSIM, all p<0.05), apart from in winter. Telemetry data were used to identify core foraging areas and habitats most likely associated with scat samples collected at the two haul-out sites. Regional differences in the diet appear to reflect regional differences in the physical habitat features, with seals foraging in deeper waters over sandy substrates showing a higher prevalence of pelagic and bentho-pelagic prey species such as blue whiting and sandeels. Conversely, seals foraging in comparatively shallow waters had a greater contribution of demersal and groundfish species such as cephalopods and flatfish in their diet. We suggest that shallower waters enable seals to spend more time foraging along the benthos while remaining within aerobic dive limits, resulting in more benthic species in the diet. In contrast, the diet of seals hauled-out in areas adjacent to deeper waters indicates that either seals engage in a more pelagic foraging strategy, or that seals can spend less time at the benthos, resulting in comparatively more pelagic prey recovered in the diet. The substantial differences in prey assemblages over a small spatial scale (<300 km) demonstrates the importance of using regionally-specific diet information in ecosystem-based models to better account for different trophic interactions. en
dc.description.sponsorship Irish Research Council (RS/2012/357); Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (FishKOSM (15/S/744)); Higher Education Authority (PRTLI4 programme Environment and Climate Change); Beaufort Marine Research Award (Sea Change Strategy and Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation 2006-2013); Marine Institute (Marine Research Sub-Programme of the National Development Plan 2007-2013) en
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.publisher PLoS ONE en
dc.relation.uri https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0209032
dc.rights © 2019 Gosch et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. en
dc.rights.uri https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ en
dc.subject Marine predator diet en
dc.subject Ecological studies en
dc.subject Geographic variation en
dc.title Spatial variation in a top marine predator’s diet at two regionally distinct sites en
dc.type Article (peer-reviewed) en
dc.internal.authorcontactother Martha Gosch, MaREI Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland. +353-21-490-3000 Email: m.gosch@ucc.ie en
dc.internal.availability Full text available en
dc.description.version Published Version en
dc.contributor.funder Irish Research Council en
dc.contributor.funder Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine en
dc.contributor.funder Higher Education Authority en
dc.contributor.funder National Parks and Wildlife Service en
dc.contributor.funder Environment and Climate Change en
dc.contributor.funder Marine Institute en
dc.description.status Peer reviewed en
dc.identifier.journaltitle PLoS ONE en
dc.internal.IRISemailaddress m.gosch@ucc.ie en
dc.identifier.articleid e0209032 en
dc.relation.project FishKOSM (15/S/744) en
dc.identifier.eissn 1932-6203


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© 2019 Gosch et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as © 2019 Gosch et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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