Localised anthropogenic wake generates a predictable foraging hotspot for top predators

Journal Article

Title: Localised anthropogenic wake generates a predictable foraging hotspot for top predators
Publication Date:
April 04, 2019
Journal: Communications Biology
Volume: 2
Pages: 8
Publisher: Nature
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Document Access

Website: External Link
Attachment: Access File
(3 MB)

Citation

Lieber, L.; Nimmo-Smith, W.; Waggitt, J.; Kregting, L. (2019). Localised anthropogenic wake generates a predictable foraging hotspot for top predators. Communications Biology, 2, 8.
Abstract: 

With rapid expansion of offshore renewables, a broader perspective on their ecological implications is timely to predict marine predator responses to environmental change. Strong currents interacting with man-made structures can generate complex three-dimensional wakes that can make prey more accessible. Whether localised wakes from man-made structures can generate predictable foraging hotspots for top predators is unknown. Here we address this question by quantifying the relative use of an anthropogenically-generated wake by surface foraging seabirds, verified using drone transects and hydroacoustics. We show that the wake of a tidal energy structure promotes a localised and persistent foraging hotspot, with seabird numbers greatly exceeding those at adjacent natural wake features. The wake mixes material throughout the water column, potentially acting like a prey conveyer belt. Our findings highlight the importance of identifying the physical scales and mechanisms underlying predator hotspot formation when assessing the ecological consequences of installing or removing anthropogenic structures.

 

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