Temporally and spatially partitioned behaviours of spinner dolphins: implications for resilience to human disturbance.
Selective forces shape the evolution of wildlife behavioural strategies and influence the spatial and temporal partitioning of behavioural activities to maximize individual fitness. Globally, wildlife is increasingly exposed to human activities which may affect their behavioural activities. The ability of wildlife to compensate for the effects of human activities may have implications for their resilience to disturbance. Resilience theory suggests that behavioural systems which are constrained in their repertoires are less resilient to disturbance than flexible systems. Using behavioural time-series data, we show that spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) spatially and temporally partition their behavioural activities on a daily basis. Specifically, spinner dolphins were never observed foraging during daytime, where resting was the predominant activity. Travelling and socializing probabilities were higher in early mornings and late afternoons when dolphins were returning from or preparing for nocturnal feeding trips, respectively. The constrained nature of spinner dolphin behaviours suggests they are less resilient to human disturbance than other cetaceans. These dolphins experience the highest exposure rates to human activities ever reported for any cetaceans. Over the last 30 years human activities have increased significantly in Hawaii, but the spinner dolphins still inhabit these bays. Recent abundance estimates (2011 and 2012) however, are lower than all previous estimates (1979-1981, 1989-1992 and 2003), indicating a possible long-term impact. Quantification of the spatial and temporal partitioning of wildlife behavioural schedules provides critical insight for conservation measures that aim to mitigate the effects of human disturbance.
Tyne, JA; Johnston, DW; Christiansen, F; Bejder, L
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