Dynamic body acceleration as a proxy to predict the cost of locomotion in bottlenose dolphins.
Estimates of the energetic costs of locomotion (COL) at different activity levels are necessary to answer fundamental eco-physiological questions and to understand the impacts of anthropogenic disturbance to marine mammals. We combined estimates of energetic costs derived from breath-by-breath respirometry with measurements of overall dynamic body acceleration (ODBA) from biologging tags to validate ODBA as a proxy for COL in trained common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). We measured resting metabolic rate (RMR); mean individual RMR was 0.71-1.42 times that of a similarly sized terrestrial mammal and agreed with past measurements that used breath-by-breath and flow-through respirometry. We also measured energy expenditure during submerged swim trials, at primarily moderate exercise levels. We subtracted RMR to obtain COL, and normalized COL by body size to incorporate individual swimming efficiencies. We found both mass-specific energy expenditure and mass-specific COL were linearly related with ODBA. Measurements of activity level and cost of transport (the energy required to move a given distance) improve understanding of the COL in marine mammals. The strength of the correlation between ODBA and COL varied among individuals, but the overall relationship can be used at a broad scale to estimate the energetic costs of disturbance and daily locomotion costs to build energy budgets, and investigate the costs of diving in free-ranging animals where bio-logging data are available. We propose that a similar approach could be applied to other cetacean species.
Allen, AS; Read, AJ; Shorter, KA; Gabaldon, J; Blawas, AM; Rocho-Levine, J; Fahlman, A
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