Scaling of activity space in marine organisms across latitudinal gradients

Udyawer V, Huveneers C, Jaine F, et al (2022) Scaling of activity space in marine organisms across latitudinal gradients. The American Naturalist.

Unifying models have shown that the amount of space used by animals (e.g., activity space, home range) scales allometrically with body mass for terrestrial taxa, however such relationships are far less clear for marine species. We compiled movement data from 1,596 individuals across 79 taxa collected using a continental passive acoustic telemetry network of acoustic receivers to assess allometric scaling of activity space. We found that ectothermic marine taxa do exhibit allometric scaling for activity space, with an overall scaling exponent of 0.64. However, body mass alone explained only 35% of the variation with the remaining variation best explained by trophic position for teleosts and latitude for sharks, rays and marine reptiles. Taxon specific allometric relationships highlighted weaker scaling exponents among teleost fish species (0.07) than sharks (0.96), rays (0.55) and marine reptiles (0.57). The allometric scaling relationship and scaling exponents for the marine taxonomic groups examined were lower than those reported from studies that had collated both marine and terrestrial species data derived using various tracking methods. We propose that these disparities arise because previous work integrated summarized data across many studies that used differing methods for collecting and quantifying activity space, introducing considerable uncertainty into slope estimates. Our findings highlight the benefit of using large-scale, coordinated animal biotelemetry networks to address cross-taxa evolutionary and ecological questions.