A comparison of the seasonal movements of tiger sharks and green turtles provides insight into their predator-prey relationship

Fitzpatrick, Richard, Thums, Michele, Bell, Ian, Meekan, Mark G., Stevens, John D. and Barnett, Adam 2012, A comparison of the seasonal movements of tiger sharks and green turtles provides insight into their predator-prey relationship, PLoS one, vol. 7, no. 12, pp. 1-11.

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Title A comparison of the seasonal movements of tiger sharks and green turtles provides insight into their predator-prey relationship
Author(s) Fitzpatrick, Richard
Thums, Michele
Bell, Ian
Meekan, Mark G.
Stevens, John D.
Barnett, Adam
Journal name PLoS one
Volume number 7
Issue number 12
Start page 1
End page 11
Total pages 11
Publisher Public Library of Science
Place of publication San Francisco, Calif.
Publication date 2012
ISSN 1932-6203
Summary During the reproductive season, sea turtles use a restricted area in the vicinity of their nesting beaches, making them vulnerable to predation. At Raine Island (Australia), the highest density green turtle Chelonia mydas rookery in the world, tiger sharks Galeocerdo cuvier have been observed to feed on green turtles, and it has been suggested that they may specialise on such air-breathing prey. However there is little information with which to examine this hypothesis. We compared the spatial and temporal components of movement behaviour of these two potentially interacting species in order to provide insight into the predator-prey relationship. Specifically, we tested the hypothesis that tiger shark movements are more concentrated at Raine Island during the green turtle nesting season than outside the turtle nesting season when turtles are not concentrated at Raine Island. Turtles showed area-restricted search behaviour around Raine Island for ~3–4 months during the nesting period (November–February). This was followed by direct movement (transit) to putative foraging grounds mostly in the Torres Straight where they switched to area-restricted search mode again, and remained resident for the remainder of the deployment (53–304 days). In contrast, tiger sharks displayed high spatial and temporal variation in movement behaviour which was not closely linked to the movement behaviour of green turtles or recognised turtle foraging grounds. On average, tiger sharks were concentrated around Raine Island throughout the year. While information on diet is required to determine whether tiger sharks are turtle specialists our results support the hypothesis that they target this predictable and plentiful prey during turtle nesting season, but they might not focus on this less predictable food source outside the nesting season.
Language eng
Field of Research 069999 Biological Sciences not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30051817

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Life and Environmental Sciences
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